Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde takes the stage
Friday, February 1, 2019
Written by: Seminole State Staff
The Center for the Fine and Performing Arts at Seminole State College will perform “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” during the month of February.
The play, written by Moises Kaufman, is a docu-drama combining histories, memoirs, biographies and Oscar Wilde’s own writings with newspaper and tabloid articles of the day to transport audiences to the trials of the 19th Century.
Wilde was the biggest celebrity of his time, famed and beloved for his wit and his exaltation of art-for art’s sake. But 1895, the year of his most famous stage success “The Importance of Being Earnest”, was also the same year of his downfall, when, in a series of trials, his love affair with Lord Alfred Douglas and his activities in the gay underworld of 19th century London were revealed. Homosexuality remained a crime in England until 1967. Wilde’s sentence of two year’s hard labor, and the suffering he endured during and after his imprisonment led to two of his most important works: The Ballad of Reading Gaol and De Profundis (From the Depths). He is now celebrated as a martyr to the cause of free speech, and as a pioneer of LGBTQ liberation.
Seminole State College of Florida is presenting Gross Indecency and, later in the season, The Importance of Being Earnest, as part of its Remembering Stonewall Series of events, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.
In the summer of 1969, the police raided the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village, New York. The Inn was patronized by members of the city's LGBTQ community. During this era, homosexuality was often treated as a mental illness, homosexual relations had not yet been decriminalized in many places, and openly gay people were barred from federal jobs. Bars and restaurants could lose their license for serving to LGBTQ patrons, limiting the public spaces in which gay people could meet and socialize freely.
The Stonewall Inn was raided by New York City police on June 28, 1969, for operating without a liquor license. The officers then began arresting the patrons and employees based on a city regulation requiring individuals to be wearing at least three articles of “gender-appropriate” clothing. Onlookers retaliated, and rioting took place outside the bar on and off for five days. The riots themselves faded away, but their legacy was powerful. Members of the LGBTQ community launched a new wave of activism that challenged the constitutionality of anti-gay and anti-transgender laws through the court system. Leaders of the movement connected with other civil rights movements and built new organizations to support those who had been marginalized and to advocate for equal rights.
The Stonewall Uprising continues to serve as a symbol of the power of working together for civil rights even today. The year 2019 will represent the 50th anniversary of this event and its call to activism. Here in the Orlando community, we know how important it is to keep this spirit alive. As historian Monica Butler explains, “when an armed gunman murdered 49 people at Pulse night club in June 2016, thousands of mourners gathered outside the Stonewall Inn to honor those who lost their lives in the ongoing struggle for equal rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The play, directed by Michele Cuomo, Dean of Arts and Communication at Seminole State, features Gabriel Garcia, Everton Spencer, Danny Sanchez, Landon Clayton, Leonel Rodriguez, Kaitlyn Read, Carolyn (CeeCee) Ducker, Adam Bird and Nathaniel Storey.
Admission is $ 10.00 for adults/$8.00 for students and seniors. Free with Seminole State College ID. This program is recommended for mature audiences only.
For reservations call 407-708-2040, or online at seminolestate.edu/arts.
“Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde”
Building G on the Sanford/Lake Mary campus
100 Weldon Blvd, Sanford, Florida 32773
Feb. 8-9, 14-16 at 7:30 pm
Feb. 10 & 17th at 2 pm.
There will be a talk-back after the production on Sunday Feb. 10, featuring Dr. Stephen Summers, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dr. Kathryn Steinhaus, Professor of Humanities.
Seminole State’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts offers programs in art, music and theater as well as a wide variety of concerts, theatre productions, gallery exhibits and other cultural events. For more information about the Center, including calendars of all upcoming cultural events at Seminole State, visit seminolestate.edu/arts and follow them on Facebook.