Next up in Philadelphia’s Oscar Wilde season is Mickle Street
Mickle Street is a new play about the famous OFOWW/WW meeting of 1882: Oscar Fingal O’fflahertie Wills Wilde and Walt Whitman.
As it happens, the encounter between Wilde and Whitman took place not in Mickle Street, but at the home of Walt’s brother, George, in nearby Stevens Street, two years before Whitman purchased the house in Mickle Street that is now a house museum to his memory.
It matters not: the Mickle Street setting gives Walt his own domain and the historically accurate housekeeper integral to the piece. Besides, another reason for forgiving the choice of title is that Mickle Street is not even called Mickle Street any longer. Indeed, one might not be lured into this literary tryst between two gay 19th century poets if Michael Whistler had succumbed to accuracy and called the play “Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard”.
Continue reading Mickle Street: Preview
Nicholas Frankel’s scholarly edition of The Annotated Importance of Being Earnest
I am fascinated by the editorial introduction and inter-leaf annotations in Nicholas Frankel’s new scholarly edition of The Annotated Importance of Being Earnest . The publisher, Harvard University Press, tells us that Frankel’s running commentary, “ties the play closely to Wilde’s personal life and sexual identity, illuminating literary, biographical, and historical allusions.”
Quite right. The book includes not only insights into Wilde’s meaning, but also information about the chronology of Wilde’s textual changes, some of which were made four years after the play was first staged. All this is quite revelatory for those who, like me, appreciate the research that must have gone into it. Or, put another way, it’s the kind of thing you’ll like if you like that kind of thing.
However, this article is not a book review. I have something revelatory of my own.
Continue reading Frankel and Earnest (and other boys’ names)
Oscar, the opera in Philadelphia
The last time Oscar Wilde visited Philadelphia it was to promote an opera. That was during his lecture tour of America in 1882 when a required part of his raison d’être was to be the poster-boy for Gilbert & Sullivan’s latest offering Patience—a comic opera whose purpose was to ridicule the adherents of the Aesthetic Movement. Not that it mattered to Oscar Wilde that he was the movement’s leading representative and the person most closely identified with the ridicule. He always knew he would outlive the mob mentality, and it is an ironic measure of the wisdom of Wilde’s indifference that he has now triumphantly returned to Philadelphia as the subject of an opera himself. The question is: if Oscar the man was indifferent to Patience, would he have had any patience for Oscar the opera?
Continue reading “Oscar” the Opera | The Art Of Darkness
Following my appearance on the truncated piece about Wilde on WHYY TV’s Articulate with Jim Cotter (the broadcaster decided against the planned full show on Oscar, but that’s television), I appeared today on Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, WHYY’s flagship radio interview program that examines local & national news, current trends, and ideas.
I was a guest along with famed countertenor DAVID DANIELS, who plays the Oscar Wilde in the opera Oscar, and the composer THEO MORRISON, to talk about Wilde and his imprisonment, which is the main theme of the opera.
Oscar Wilde’s story: The Portrait of Mr. W. H.