Actor and writer Robert Coyle founded The Oscar Wilde Project in 1992, to develop a new one - man show about the writer and wit Oscar Wilde.
It was funded during FYR 96, in part, through a major grant from the Iowa Humanities Board; and other private, corporate and public entities. Current sponsorship has been received from The Playboy Foundation, Hewlett - Packard, University Book and Supply, Cedar Falls and private individuals.
Oscar Wilde: An Introduction --
The One-Man Play --
This production is a professional, Equity, touring production to reach audiences not already served. The play has been taped for broadcast in 1996 on Cedar Falls Cable Television.
Why-- Oscar Wilde: An Evening Alone?
The past, like art, serves to hold a mirror through which we might more closely examine ourselves. Oscar Wilde, writer, and historical character, affords us a model example. He is both the epitome of his time and one who transcends time, Oscar Wilde is relevant and contemporary today. He is with us today in both his writings and the actions of his life, he is contemporary.
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What the Critics say -
The creative process was laid bare for the metro community via "Oscar Wilde: an Evening Alone", a rich and provocative one-man show shared last spring by Equity actor Robert Coyle.
Indeed, the creative process was not only laid bare, it was shared. Coyle's extraordinarily generous act was to invite the community to participate in a play's generation. And participate the community did.
What interests me most as a newspaper drama reviewer of 22 years is the great success of Coyle's experiment. Community members seemed pleased to participate in a drama-in-the-making. They stayed after the first performances in March, shared their responses with Mr. Coyle, and returned in May to see what he had made of them.
And he had made much.
To begin with, Bob Coyle looks like Oscar Wilde. He is irish to boot, and has worked in the Irish theatre. The 100th anniversary of "The importance of Being Ernest." Wilde's brilliant comedy, is being celebrated in 1995, and Coyle had the inspired notion that Wilde's controversial life and work might give Iowans historical perspective on issues which seemingly never fade.
I am referring to what art is acceptable for public consumption (and taxpayer funding) and what should be society's response to the love that has no name."
Coyle's "Oscar Wilde: An Evening alone" helps us see the situation contextually - always an important thing to do - indeed, as a matter of complexity and conflict for the artist as well as for society. Coyle gives us no pat answers. He wishes to stimulate our thinking instead. He shows us Wilde brooding over whether the artist "kills the thing he loves." But what ultimately came through for me was the need for the truths of the human heart to be told.
At the same time we lament that society make truth telling so difficult.
Robert Coyle is a fine actor. His opening recreation of the beloved "Earnest" is tour de force comic delight making us think that Lady Bracknell is perhaps best portrayed by a man. After this witty opening, however, we see the Wilde of the poems (as well as of the epigrams), the tortured Wilde as well as the Wilde triumphant.
The Iowa Humanities Board and the Hearst Center for the Arts should be saluted for allowing metro theatre goers to participate in such important dialogue - as well as in the creative process. Sharing our ideas with Robert Coyle gave us a sense of the many choices involved in creating a work of art - and how challenging truth-telling can be.
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