Today is April 14, a date noted in history for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the sinking of the Titanic. Not that Oscar Wilde had much to do with either event, although he once met the former President’s widow, Mary Lincoln, when she was living in retirement in New York City; and two of his friends died in the Titanic disaster.
But April 14 is also the 161st anniversary of the opening of the short-lived but historic Pony Express, and this, surprisingly, does give me an opportunity to talk a little about Oscar Wilde.
It was time for the press screening of The Happy Prince, Rupert Everett’s new bio-pic of Oscar Wilde’s post-parting prison depression, to be shown at the headquarters of Sony Pictures in New York ahead of its general release in the U.S. later in the month.
I decided to prepare in a manner becoming the movie.
Here are Oscar and Bosie in May 1893 at the studio of photographers Gillman & Co. of Oxford, whose establishment was at 107 St Aldate’s Street. That location today, to set a tone of bathos, is a Ladbrokes Off Track Betting Shop.
This well known picture captures the boys relaxed and smoking, distant even—so apparently between arguments. But upon inspection you’ll see that, in keeping with their lives, all was not as it seems.
The Judas Kiss focuses on two crucial moments in Oscar Wilde’s life
I was asked by the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) to provide an article for their blog in anticipation of David Hare’s forthcoming play The Judas Kiss.
It isrepublished here, slightly amended, followed by a link to a moving article by Ruper Everett on playing Oscar.
The Judas Kiss, coming to the BAM Harvey Theater May 11—Jun 12, marks a historic return of the Irish poet, dramatist, and wit Oscar Wilde. This is not, of course, a return of Wilde the playwright, whose works have been staged several times at BAM over the years. It is a return in the sense of the reappearance of Wilde in person.
This is significant because no one has appeared as Oscar Wilde at BAM since Wilde himself spoke there 134 years ago on a nationwide lecture tour. The performance by Rupert Everett, who plays Wilde, is a fitting parallel because Oscar was also playing a part—masquerading as the poster boy for Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience, a comic opera poking fun at the aesthetic movement.
Join us at the Brooklyn Academy of Music for The Judas Kiss
May 11—Jun 12, 2016
Are you in New York this month?
Why not join the Philadelphia Wildeans who are planning a visit to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), to see The Judas Kiss, the play starring an acclaimed performance by Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde.
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?