It is very exciting to introduce a new piece of theatre into the world, and it is a little scary too. This play is rooted in the Fayerweather community, this moment in time, and the dedication of our ensemble, play team, parent volunteers, staff, and faculty. I am grateful to be sharing it with you today.
I was inspired by the creativity and ingenuity of the Unit Play creation last year over Zoom through classes and script rehearsals. This year, as we prepared to be together in person for the play, I wanted to bring over the ability to adapt our play to suit the needs of the moment and the community. I think the best way to do this is to collaborate with students throughout the writing process.
This year we will be performing a new original play, adapted and dramatized by me, Bella Tasha, and everyone who suggested changing a line, improvised new lines, asked for more lines, wanted a more in depth understanding of a character, defined a rule of magic, pointed out a plot-hole, or asked me a question about the play that I hadn't thought about before.
Oscar and His Wilde Tales is inspired by Oscar Wilde’s most famous short stories and a number of poems. These stories have been woven into one interconnected world where the stories unfold over a number of years. We see characters grow, change, move, and disappear. Each play maintains its original uniqueness while working together to tell our story. As we bring Wilde’s tales to life, we explore themes of sacrifice, generosity, love, hope, and forgiveness through a strong focus of ensemble storytelling and performance. Wilde was not known for his optimism. A challenge in creating this piece was to balance his historically renowned cynicism while pulling out the veiled, hidden, and sometimes cherished hope that I see in his work.
Wilde was a poet, playwright, novelist in the late nineteenth century. He experienced both great popularity and harsh criticism of his vast body of work. He was considered an eccentric person at this time. He often clashed with the stringent societal norms of Victorian England. Wilde’s sexuality has been subject to speculation through modern history, as he was unable to come out publicly under the threat of legal and social repercussions. Our understanding is that he was a gay man. In 1895 he was put on trial for “gross indecency,” as homosexuality was a criminal offense at this time. He was posthumously pardoned in 2017. Oscar Wilde’s work has continued in popularity and he remains an important LGBTQ+ icon in the arts world.
In adapting, one has a responsibility to uncover core themes and ideas, while leaving dated ideology in the past. As with much of historical fiction, there are harmful stereotypes in some of Wilde's work. As a creative team, Emily, Julie, and myself had many conversations to ensure we had removed language that was not in agreement with our values and the values of Fayerweather Street School.