Oscar Wilde

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Plays by Oscar Wilde

The Duchess of Padua

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Duchess of Padua is a tragic melodrama that centres around a young man named Guido Ferranti who has come to Padua to learn the secret of his birth. There he is told that his father's life was ruined by the current duke of Padua; Guido is convinced that he should revenge his father's life by murdering the duke. He agrees at first to undertake this mission, but later balks at the task, only for it to be carried out by his lover, Beatrice, the wife of the murdered Duke. The play ends in further bloodshed, with the double suicide of the lovers.

The Duchess of Padua, written in 1883, is Oscar Wilde's second play. Written for, but ultimately rejected by, the American actress Mary Anderson, it finally premiered anonymously at the Broadway Theatre in New York.

audio Ever Yours, Oscar: Selected letters by Oscar Wilde performed by Brian Bedford

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Ever Yours, Oscar tells the story of Oscar Wilde's life through his letters, revealing little-known aspects of the man whose timeless works range from The Picture of Dorian Gray to The Importance of Being Earnest. Brian Bedford, the late Tony-winning actor, brings Wilde’s words to life in this unique, engaging performance. Featuring: Brian Bedford.

A Florentine Tragedy

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

A Florentine Tragedy is a tragedy in blank-verse set in the sixteenth century. It tells the story of the illicit love between a burgher's wife, Bianca, and the young heir to the throne of Florence, Guido. Guido has come to the house of the burgher Simone to claim Bianca for his own. Encouraged by her, Guido promises a fortune to Simone in exchange for her hand. Simone, though greedy for the money, is not to be swayed so easily, and a fight to the death ensues.

Written in 1894, A Florentine Tragedy exists only as a fragment, often accompanied for the purposes of presentation by an opening scene commissioned from the Irish poet Thomas Sturge Moore by Robert Ross, Wilde's literary executor. Only Oscar Wilde's work is presented here.

audio An Ideal Husband

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

A tender love story, a serpentine villainess, a glittering setting in London society and a shower of Wildean witticisms are only a few of the reasons this play has enjoyed hugely successful revivals in London and New York. This 1895 drama also seems eerily prescient, as it explores the plight of a promising young politician, desperate to hide a secret in his past. With empathy and wit, Wilde explores the pitfalls of holding public figures to higher standards than the rest of us.

Includes an interview with Michael Hackett, the Chair of the Department of Theater at the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to his extensive directorial work for L.A. Theatre Works - which includes plays by Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams, and Noel Coward - Michael has directed for the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; the Royal Theatre at the Hague; and the Los Angeles Opera. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Rosalind Ayres as Lady Gertrude Chiltern Jacqueline Bisset as Mrs. Cheveley Paul Gutrecht as Vicomte de Nanjac Martin Jarvis as Sir Robert Chiltern Robert Machray as Phipps Miriam Margolyes as Lady Markby Alfred Molina as Lord Goring Jim Norton as Lord Caversham Yeardley Smith as Mabel Chiltern Directed by Michael Hackett.

Featuring: Rosalind Ayres, Jacqueline Bisset, Paul Gutrecht, Martin Jarvis, Robert Machray, Miriam Margolyes, Alfred Molina, Jim Norton, Yeardley Smith

audio The Importance of Being Earnest

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

This final play from the pen of Oscar Wilde is a stylish send-up of Victorian courtship and manners, complete with assumed names, mistaken lovers, and a lost handbag. Jack and Algernon are best friends, both wooing ladies who think their names are Ernest, “that name which inspires absolute confidence.” Wilde’s effervescent wit, scathing social satire, and high farce make this one of the most cherished plays in the English language.

Includes an interview with director Michael Hackett, Professor of Theater in the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA.

An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance featuring: James Marsters as Jack Charles Busch as Lady Bracknell Emily Bergl as Cecily Neil Dickson as Lane and Merriman Jill Gascoine as Miss Prism Christopher Neame as Chasuble Matthew Wolf as Algernon Sarah Zimmerman as Gwendolen

Directed by Michael Hackett. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Emily Bergl, Charles Busch, Neil Dickson, Jill Gascoine, James Marsters, Christopher Neame, Matthew Wolf, Sarah Zimmerman

Includes an interview with director Michael Hackett, Professor of Theater in the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA.

An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance featuring: James Marsters as Jack Charles Busch as Lady Bracknell Emily Bergl as Cecily Neil Dickson as Lane and Merriman Jill Gascoine as Miss Prism Christopher Neame as Chasuble Matthew Wolf as Algernon Sarah Zimmerman as Gwendolen

Directed by Michael Hackett. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Emily Bergl, Charles Busch, Neil Dickson, Jill Gascoine, James Marsters, Christopher Neame, Matthew Wolf, Sarah Zimmerman

Includes an interview with director Michael Hackett, Professor of Theater in the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA. An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: James Marsters as Jack Charles Busch as Lady Bracknell Emily Bergl as Cecily Neil Dickson as Lane and Merriman Jill Gascoine as Miss Prism Christopher Neame as Chasuble Matthew Wolf as Algernon Sarah Zimmerman as Gwendolen Directed by Michael Hackett. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Emily Bergl, Charles Busch, Neil Dickson, Jill Gascoine, James Marsters, Christopher Neame, Matthew Wolf, Sarah Zimmerman

The Importance of Being Earnest (New Mermaids)

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is presented here in the New Mermaids series, complete with its scholarly annotation and context.

Wilde’s ‘trivial play for serious people’, a sparkling comedy of manners, is the epitome of wit and style. The play employs and parodies the conventions of romance, farce and melodrama: identities are discovered, long lost family ties reinstated, and coincidences are savoured.

John (‘Jack’) Worthing lives in the country with his ward Cecily, and her governess, Miss Prism. There he is an exemplary character, a sober and upright member of the community and a Justice of the Peace. But he spends as much time as he can in London, claiming that he has a scapegrace of a younger brother, Ernest, whose frequent scrapes call for Jack’s attendance in town. There, Jack is known to his friends – including Algernon Moncrieff – as Ernest. Algernon, as it happens, has invented a permanent invalid called Bunbury, whose frequent crises of health give Algernon an excuse to gallivanting round the country. When Algernon turns up at Jack’s country house, claiming to be ‘Ernest’, and Jack arrives to announce the death of his dissipated brother, their double lives begin to catch up with them.

The verbal brilliance of the play's highly self-conscious characters hides deep anxieties about social and personal identity. This neatly constructed satire, with its celebrated characters and much quoted dialogue, turns accepted ideas inside out and is generally regarded as Wilde’s masterpiece.

Lady Windermere's Fan

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

With its author's trademark wit, social satire and outrageous paradox, Wilde’s play shows us the destructiveness of gossip and superficial judgement, and examines the ambiguous sexual morality and gender politics at the heart of the British ruling class.

Lady Windermere has a happy marriage – or, at least, that’s what she believes – until one of London’s society gossips, the Duchess of Berwick, arrives with her daughter to voice her suspicions about an affair Lord Windermere appears to be having. It’s not just the Duchess who has evidence, however. Windermere’s private bank book shows that he’s been giving large sums of money to a ‘Mrs Erlynne’ – on frequent occasions – and he himself even admits to seeing much of the woman. To add insult to injury, Windermere insists that Mrs Erlynne be invited to the ball that is being held for Lady Windermere’s birthday.

Wilde’s exploration of adultery results in a sparkling, satirical critique of society, and of the hypocrisy that lurks behind the etiquette and perfect epigrams.

Lady Windermere’s Fan was first staged in 1892 at the St James Theatre, London.

audio Lady Windermere's Fan

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

The irreverent satire that launched Wilde’s succession of classical comedies. A Lord, his wife, her admirer and an infamous blackmailer converge in this delicious comic feast of scandal. A divinely funny comedy of good girls, bad husbands and the moral hypocrisy of British high society in the late nineteenth century.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring: Gina Field as Lady Agatha Carlisle Judy Geeson as Lady Plymdale Joanna Going as Lady Windermere Arthur Hanket as Mr. Cecil Graham Lisa Harrow as Mrs. Erlynne Dominic Keating as Mr. Hopper Miriam Margolyes as The Duchess of Berwick Roger Rees as Lord Windermere Eric Stoltz as Lord Darlington James Warwick as Lord Augustus Lorton Tom Wheatley as Parker Directed by Michael Hackett. Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

Featuring: Gina Field, Judy Geeson, Joanna Going, Arthur Hanket, Lisa Harrow, Dominic Keating, Miriam Margolyes, Roger Rees, Eric Stoltz, James Warwick, Tom Wheatley

video Lady Windermere’s Fan (BBC film adaptation)

BBC Video
Type: Video

With its author's trademark wit, social satire and outrageous paradox, Wilde’s play shows us the destructiveness of gossip and superficial judgement, and examines the ambiguous sexual morality and gender politics at the heart of the British ruling class. Lady Windermere has a happy marriage – or, at least, that’s what she believes – until one of London’s society gossips, the Duchess of Berwick, arrives with her daughter to voice her suspicions about an affair. Wilde’s exploration of adultery results in a sparkling, satirical critique of society, and of the hypocrisy that lurks behind the etiquette and perfect epigrams.

Credits:

Director: Tony Smith; Producer: Louis Marks; Playwright: Oscar Wilde; Designer: Don Taylor (1936-2003); Costume Designer: Phoebe de Gaye; Introduced by: Stephanie Turner; Script Editor: David Snodin. Cast: Ian Burford: Parker, John Clive: Mr Dumby, Gloria Connell: Mrs Cowper-Cowper, Kenneth Cranham: Lord Darlington, Diana Fairfax: Lady Jedburgh, Sara Kestelman: Duchess of Berwick Mary Kurowski: Rosalie, Robert Lang: Lord Augustus Lorton, Veronica Lang: Lady Plymdale, Helena Little: Lady Windermere Vivien Lloyd: Lady Stutfield, Geoff Morrell: Mr Hopper, Amanda Royle: Lady Agatha Carlisle, James Saxon: Cecil Graham, Stephanie Turner: Mrs Erlynne, Tim Woodward: Lord Windermere

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

La Sainte Courtisane

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Myrrhina, a courtisane, seeks out a hermit who she has heard is beautiful; she hopes to tempt him from his righteous path into a life of earthly love. However, on beholding the cross for the first time, she finds herself instead converting to a life of virtue, while he, who indeed has fallen for her beauty, hopes to take her away as his lover.

Of the play, the critic H. Montgomery Hyde wrote: 'in some ways it is not unlike Salomé and though written in English Wilde may have had it in mind for the French theatre. The paradox of a female sinner converting a righteous male rarely fails to attract an audience and has been used by many other writers notably Somerset Maugham.'

Written in 1894, La Sainte Courtisane exists only as a fragment and was never completed. Here, a line of dots in the text indicates where a new fragment begins.

Picture of Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (b. Dublin, 1854) was an Irish playwright, who wrote one of the best loved comedies in the English language - The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). A leading wit and conversationalist in London society, his career was destroyed at its height when he was imprisoned for homosexual offences.

Wilde was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and Magdalen College, Oxford. Settling in London, he became famous for his extravagant dress, long hair, and paradoxical views on art, literature, and morality. His first play, Vera (1880), a tragedy about Russian nihilists, was produced in New York to poor reviews. Success in the theatre came with the elegant drawing-room comedy Lady Windermere's Fan. A Woman of No Importance (1893) was another success. Other works for the theatre were An Ideal Husband (1895) and the biblical Salomé (1896), written in French for Sarah Bernhardt.

Wilde flaunted his homosexual affairs, including his ill-fated liaison with Lord Alfred Douglas. Following a celebrated trial in 1895 he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour. The sentence led to public humiliation, poor health, and bankruptcy. On his release in 1897 he left for France and remained in exile there until his death in 1900.