Entertainment Theatre Work is the Curse of the Drinking Classes

Work is the Curse of the Drinking Classes

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Paris 1899. “If another century began and I was still alive, I think it would be more than the English could stand!”

Oscar Wilde, outrageous Irishman from Dublin (via Oxford) declared he was a socialist and hinted he was a homosexual. He declined, in a public and ceremonious manner, to live within his means, behave modestly, respect his elders, or recognize such entities as nature and art in their traditional apparel.

He won admiration and denigration. Legends sprang up about him, and unsavory rumours too. He was accused of sins from effeminacy to plagiarism. That he was the kindest of men was not so widely known. Instead, at the very moment he was writing his best and The Importance of Being Earnest had crowned his career, what the law picturesquely calls sodomy was imputed to him. He was sentenced in the end to two years of hard labor for the lesser charge of indecent behavior with men. So much glory has rarely been followed by so much humiliation.

The hardships of prison life and of subsequent exile in France and Italy, left Wilde a broken man.  A spendthrift on his uppers, slighted by old acquaintances, he pursued on his release the life for which he had been jailed.  In 1900, at the age of 46, he died in an obscure Paris Hotel.

Wilde is one of us. His wit is an agent for renewal, as pertinent now as a hundred years ago. The questions posed by both his art and his life lend his art a quality of earnestness, an earnestness which he always disavowed.

This entertainment devised and performed by Jeroen Kranenburg pays tribute to Wilde’s critical sense, his wide and deep learning, and his profound humanity. The show also focuses on the cynicism with which friends cut him off at his fall; on literature, art and life in the 1890’s; his remarkable tour of America in 1882, and his subsequent success as a poet, journalist, critic and dramatist in London.

This production premiered in February 1986 at the Stalhouderij Theatre in Amsterdam. Since then, it has successfully toured to Berlin, New York, London, Market Theatre, Grahamstown National Arts Festival (1991 & 2003), Port Elizabeth, Hogsback, Witness Arts Festival, Olympia Café, Mount Nelson Hotel and Obz Café.

Work is the Curse of the Drinking Classes will be performed at 6 Spin Street Restaurant Theatre, 6 Spin Street, 6 Spin Street, Church Square, Cape Town. To make reservations please phone 021 461 0666 or per email [email protected]