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.
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 instantly lured into a literary tryst between two gay 19th century poets if Michael Whistler had succumbed to accuracy and called the play “Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard”.
To be fair, this stretch of Mickle Street once had a previous life as Mickle Boulevard (the storied history is here), and there are those, including The Walt Whitman House itself, who still use this address. Visitors to the house from Philadelphia appropriately must cross the Walt Whitman Bridge.
The play, meanwhile, runs February 17 – March 8 in the Independence Studio of the Walnut Street Theatre, America”s oldest, and it has already met with mixed reviews. But who cares about critics? It’s Oscar isn’t it?—and more grist for whetting Wildean appetite. But for those who do care about critics, I shall give an appraisal when I see the play at the next Oscar Wilde Meetup on March 7.
Before that (tonight, in fact), locals can gain some insight into the play and its characters by attending Wilde Meets Whitman: Legendary Conversation at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. Michael Whistler and Allen Crawford, Whitman author, will discuss the ways in which Whitman and Wilde have inﬂuenced and inspired their own creative endeavors.
—Oscar Wilde was 6’3″ in height and 27 years old when he met Whitman.
—Actor Daniel Fredrick, who plays Oscar, is 6’3″ in height and 27 years old.
Daniel Fredrick (Oscar Wilde)