by Moises Kaufman
translation Lucio De Capitani
directors, stage & costume designers Ferdinando Bruni and Francesco Frongia
with Giovanni Franzoni, Riccardo Buffonini, Edoardo Chiabolotti, Giusto Cucchiarini, Ludovico D’agostino, Giuseppe Lanino, Ciro Masella, Filippo Quezel, Nicola Stravalaci
assistant to director Giovanna Guida
assistant to costume designer Saverio Assumma
production Teatro dell’Elfo
"Moises Kaufman’s piece struck me for being something absolutely new, while recognizing his debt with the Brecht and Piscator theater. What I find electrifying in Obscene Acts is the dialectic between carnality and intellect/history/politics. For example, just look at the terrifying, funny and sensual scene where Wilde’s ex revelry comrades, his hustlers, betray him to save themselves. In its interweaving of greed, intelligence, brilliant dialectics, hubris, class conflict, tragedy and comedy, the text here reaches a Shakespearian dimension, which does not mean a retrograde position; since in these times of cautious, modest and circumspect dramatics in moving away from the boundaries of everyday life, the most genuinely radical writers of our era are committed to (re)discovering the inexhaustible vitality of Shakespeare". This is how one of the greatest theater authors of our time, Tony Kushner, enthusiastically expresses himself. His powerful Angels in America - has accompanied the Elfo Theater in some of the most beautiful seasons of its history. And in fact, Moises Kaufman’s text transcends the boundaries of a passionate reconstruction of the three trials endured by Oscar Wilde in 1895 - the trials that led him to the harsh sentence of two years of forced labor and civil and artistic death - to turn into a theatrical ritual in which we talk about art, freedom, theater, sex, passion. The trial for the Irish writer becomes the trial for any artist who strongly proclaims the absolute anarchy of creation.
After the painful Wilde of The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Elio De Capitani, the sensual and "transgressive" Salomè with an all-male cast by Bruni/Frongia and the ironic and satirical The Canterville Ghost by Ferdinando Bruni, Bruni and Frongia add a peg to the reconnaissance in the work of this well-known writer and, precisely for this reason, still to be discovered. Obscene Acts puts a courtroom in the center of the scene where, poetic passages and moving incursions appear in the tight debate of the poet’s work, allowing the figure of Wilde to emerge: artist and gentle, impetuous bustard of all the hypocrisy of a society such as the Victorian, the epitome of all hypocritical societies. The nine performers from different theatrical experiences compose the cast of this new production, which debuts at the Festival of Spoleto in a stage setting that fits in with the peculiar space of the Auditorium della Stella, and then replicates in the autumn at the Elfo Puccini in Milan: Giovanni Franzoni in the role of Oscar Wilde, Giusto Cucchiarini, Giuseppe Lanino, Ciro Masella, Nicola Stravalaci and the young ones under 30 Riccardo Buffonini, Edoardo Chiabolotti, Ludovico D’agostino, Filippo Quezel.
With its structure, the text calls on the actors’ ability to be "narrators" and in the short run to joke on "characters", to move from a direct relationship with the public to the reconstruction of another place and another era, allowing us to continue our fruitful research into Anglo-Saxon neo-brechtian theater, whose latest and most successful result was Peter Morgan’s Frost/Nixon.
Moises Kaufman says: "In setting up Obscene acts The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde there were two things that interested me: first, I wanted to tell the story, a possible story of these trials. And secondly, I was interested in using this story to continue my work on exploring the form and the theatrical language. More precisely: How can the theater narrate History? As I went on with my work, I realized that there are various versions of what had happened during those trials, depending on the people involved: George Bernard Shaw, Lord Alfred Douglas, Frank Harris, Oscar Wilde, each told a personal, and sometimes very different story of what had happened. It seemed to me that any serious attempt to reconstruct this story, these different points of view had to be taken into account, in one way or another. All this put me in front of a very challenging problem: how to create a piece that contained all the plurality of these stories and at the same time preserved a coherent dramaturgical line. Then, as a director, I realized that a reconstruction of this kind posed a number of other issues. As soon as the actors began the work of interpretation of these historical characters, they inevitably added to their portraits something that had to do with their personal stories, with their "version" of who these characters were and what was in the center of their conflicts. I realized that the piece had to make this "presence" visible, the presence of the actors telling the story. The text that eventually came out represents an attempt to elaborate all these issues".