UK Theatre Explores the 'Gross Indecency' of the Trials of Oscar Wilde
To read a transcript of this video, click here. Video by Zak Norton/UK Theatre.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 27, 2013) — As Great Britain's House of Lords considers passing a same-sex marriage act, the University of Kentucky Department of Theatre is presenting "Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde," a tale of the tribulations of one of England's best known playwrights who was prosecuted for his "indecent" love life. UK production's last four performances of "Gross Indecency" take the stage at 7:30 p.m., Feb. 28 and March 1-2, and 2 p.m., March 3, at the Guignol Theatre.
Oscar Wilde led an enlightened existence as one of the most creative literary geniuses in 19th century England. Playwright Moises Kaufman’s drama "Gross Indecency" deftly weaves selections of court transcripts and personal documents that paint the story of a man who lived boldly in a time that tried him for the passion that made him different.
Theatre junior Michael Sheehy is up to the task of playing the critically acclaimed author. "Being a historical character, and such a popular one at that, is always difficult because you feel the need to play to people's conception of that person," the actor said. "With 'Gross Indecency,' I've tried to delicately balance my own interpretation of this brilliant man with the Oscar Wilde that many people love."
Sheehy, a native of Chicago, Ill., credits the entire cast and crew in making the play so powerful. "The cast and crew have been absolutely phenomenal. The show is so much of an ensemble show that it really would be impossible without them."
Many of the actors are even bringing to life multiple roles, with some playing up to 10 different real characters as part of "Gross Indecency." "Playing multiple roles has been a really cool experience because you have to differentiate between the characters to make sure they don't all run together," said theatre senior Brendan Westerfield, of Beaver Dam, Ky. "I had to make a conscious effort to make different choices for each character while staying true to the script and the people themselves."
The ensemble allows the audience to see the trials of Wilde through the eyes of several real people who were part of the historic events surrounding the trials and allows the audience to come up with their own version of the truth. "I believe the audience will feel like they are a part of the jury," said theatre junior Katye Heim, assistant director of the UK production.
“This show has been interesting to work on because it is a nonfiction play. Every word that is spoken is taken from transcripts from the actual trials, nothing has been made up," said Heim, a native of Louisville, Ky. "It's our responsibility as directors and actors to be loyal to the text and communicate every single word as it has been presented to us. This play is also important to present to the LGBTQIA community. These trials took place over 100 years ago, and the law that ended up affecting Oscar Wilde (Gross Indecencies with Another Male Person, 1885 by Queen Victoria) was in effect until 1967. With Great Britain considering legalizing gay marriage, it’s interesting to see how times have changed since Victorian times."
Tickets for "Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde" can be purchased for $15 general admission and $10 for students. To reserve tickets, call the ticket office at (859) 257-4929 or visit online at scfatickets.com.
The UK Department of Theatre at UK College of Fine Arts has played an active role in the performance scene in Central Kentucky for more than 100 years. Students in the program get hands-on training and one-on-one mentorship from a renowned professional theatre faculty. The liberal arts focus of the bachelor's degree program is coupled with ongoing career counseling to ensure a successful transition from campus to professional life.
MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, (859) 257-8716 ;firstname.lastname@example.org