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Wilde at Home

Wilde at Home

This practice-based research programme explores the idea put forward by Henri Levebvre of "lived space" - that we produce space as we move in it. This concept is helpful in understanding the dynamics of site-specific performance.

In Wilde at Home, scenes from Oscar Wilde's writings were performed in different locations around two distinctive buildings: in May 2015 at Florence Court House, a National Trust property in Enniskillen where Wilde went to school; and in September 2016 in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, where Wilde famously declared his genius to bemused customs officials. The Academy was founded in 1884, the year Wilde married his wife, Constance, and photographs of its early graduates fitted well with the 19th century drama and prose.

In both venues, performance was "in dialogue" with the building, its architecture and its decor, creating two quite distinct effects. In Florence Court there were resonances of social hierarchy. In the Academy one sensed the ghosts of former students rising up to take back the stage.

In each venue, audiences experienced the performance as two groups, weaving back and forth through the corridors and landings, passing one another, and seeing the performed extracts in a different order. The actors reported the difference it made to the playing of each scene that each group were on a different narrative track.

In this respect, the performance build on an emergin pattern of site-specific performance that is particular to Belfast and was developed in productions such as The Wedding Community Play (1999) and Convictions (2000) in which multiple audiences engage simultaneously with performers. 

Wilde at Home extends this work in an original way by having a second audience follow the first in canon, and by providing a basis for comparison between two venues for the same performance.