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Gross Indecency—The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde’s Sex and Censorship Trial Still Resonates

“Gross Indecency—The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” by Moises Kaufman is a fast-paced tragic courtroom drama focused on the acclaimed Irish poet and playwright and his relationships with male partners, specifically Lord Alfred Douglas.

Set in the 1890s when homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom, the trials center around the eventual accusations of “gross indecency” given to anyone exhibiting homosexual activity.

Presented by the Department of Theatre Arts and directed by University of Idaho Master of Fine Arts candidate, Ricky Kimball, the story’s relevancy in our current social climate is undeniable. The fight for LGBTQ+ rights has made immense strides in the past decades and has moved the needle towards justice. Wilde’s story compels people to acknowledge that while society has come a long way, we still have “the impulse to impose prohibitionist judgment on the private lives of individuals,” said Kimball.

"This is also a strong story about the power of perspectives in our culture. How we can shape and distort facts in a way that can change the very fabric of what is known as truth. This event shows the staining power of Puritanistic attitudes when it comes to trying to determine what is moral and immoral for everyone," Kimball said.

“This story needs to be told to as many people as possible to show that we cannot call ourselves a humane society and treat each other in this way,” Kimball said. He hopes the production creates a conversation about the issues that continue today in our culture.

The script uses actual trial testimony and excerpts from Wilde’s writing with the words of his contemporaries and introduces more than 40 characters. A cast of students from the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences portray 11 characters including Luke Holt as Oscar Wilde and Angel Kalasz as Lord Alfred Douglas, along with Rachael Fornarotto, Scout Christensen, Eli Baker, Blake Presnell, Lauren Welch, Teresa Daily, Nick Hansen, Shawn Hunt and alumnus Brian Tibayan.

Article by Princess Kannah, BFA candidate in Performance
Department of Theatre Arts
Published March 2021

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