CU seizes a Wilde opportunity for collaboration
CU staff, students and Boulder Ensemble Theatre Co. join for “Gross Indecency”
By Clay Evans
The story of playwright Oscar Wilde’s tragic humiliation and downfall in Victorian England is providing an unusual collaborative opportunity for the Department of Theatre & Dance and a local professional theatre company.
The Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and CU faculty and students will present “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” April 19-May 5 at Boulder’s Dairy Center for the Arts.
“This enables us to do something we can’t ordinarily do, which is stage a slightly larger-cast show,” says Stephen Weitz, producing ensemble director for BETC. “It also provides students an opportunity to be exposed to a professional environment outside the academy. It gives them some experience of what they are in for, career-wise.”
The Irish-born Wilde, who wrote such classic plays as The Importance of Being Earnest and Salomé, was a celebrated wit in English society until he was convicted of “gross indecency” because he was gay. Sent to prison, his once stellar career faltered. He never recovered, and died at 46, destitute.
The play, written by Moises Kaufman, is a trenchant, incendiary mix of sex and censorship, with a cast of characters that includes George Bernard Shaw and Queen Victoria.
Assistant Professor Chip Parsons will play Wilde in the collaboration, joining Theatre & Dance students Cole Cribari, Daniel Leonard, Brendon Milove and Haydn Winston. The cast also includes BETC actors Michael Bouchard, Bob Buckley, Jim Hunt and Sam Sandoe. (Leonard, Hunt and Sandoe also will perform in this summer’s Colorado Shakespeare Festival.)
“This is a win-win relationship, as the play has roles for young men. It’s a perfect opportunity for our students to work with the wonderful people at BETC,” says Bud Coleman, chair of the Theatre & Dance Department. “And the students will have the rare opportunity to work alongside one of their teachers. Chip Parsons is an accomplished Equity actor (member of the Actors Equity Association) and he’s thrilled to tackle this larger-than-life character.”
In addition, department members Senior Instructor/Scenery Designer Kerry Cripe and Assistant Professor/Costume Design Advisor Markas Henry will work on the production.
BETC approached the department about creating partnerships in 2011, says Weitz, a graduate of CU.
“We’ve had sort of an unofficial relationship over the years,” he says. “This kind of collaboration helps to bridge the gap between what’s happening on campus and the rest of town. We’re both reaching out to bring the two communities together.”
“Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde”
A collaboration between the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and CU Theatre & Dance
Where: The Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
When: April 19-May 5; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 4 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets: $24 general admission; $22 seniors; $19 students; $15 for Thursday performances
Box Office: 303-444-7328, open noon to 5 p.m. M-F, and one-hour before all performances
Tickets online: go to www.boulderensembletheatre.org