Equality Explored in ‘Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde’

The cast of "Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde" performs the play at the Sanford/Lake Mary campus. Photo by Grace Lamberty

Play Runs Through this Weekend at Harriett’s Theatre on the Sanford/Lake Mary Campus

By Grace Lamberty

“Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” represents the hard work that Seminole State’s theater group has to offer and sends the message of equality throughout all sexualities.

“Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” ended its run at Seminole State. Photo by Grace Lamberty

The stage was set to represent a courtroom with four wooden tables in front and a witness stand directly in the middle. Before the show  began, videos and pictures from the 1960s played, showing gay couples and movements meant to stand up for gay rights.

Murmurs silenced as the lights dimmed, and the cast slowly entered the stage.

Set in the 19th century, Oscar Wilde—the Irish poet and playwright—was accused of having romantic relations with another man. Through the course of three trials, the audience experiences multiple characters in imaginary settings, all taking place in the courtroom.

Director Michele Cuomo, dean of Seminole State’s Arts and Communications, produced the play with a small cast and a beautiful meaning behind it.

“The story is … a fascinating story,” Cuomo said. “It’s a very disturbing story. And my concern, always, is to make sure that it was given justice.”

The College is presenting “Gross Indecency” as part of its Remembering Stonewall Series, which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. The uprising in 1969 was one of the many fights the LGBTQ+ community made for equal rights.

“[The audience] should take away the message of equality, really,” said Daren Maffei, assistant director for the play, adding that it was fun “bringing the play to life.

“The [actors] had a challenge developing different characters for each person that they’re playing. So, it was fun that way and just seeing how they built each character.”

Some actors took on the roles of six different characters during the play.

Everyone had put in 24 to 30 hours a week to rehearse and memorize lines. The actors unanimously agreed, though, that the pay-off was worth it.

Actress Carolyn (CeeCee) Ducker said choosing to be in the play was personal.

“As a bisexual, I think it is so important that people take away from this,” Ducker said. “Like, this did happen … so it’s important to know where we came from personally as queer people.”

The performance ended with one last monologue and lyrical interpretive dance, and the crowd gave a standing ovation.

The Seminole State cast will hold its final performances of “Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde” Feb. 14 to 16 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 17 at 2 p.m.

The Seminole State theater program will continue its commemoration of Remembering Stonewall with a play written by Oscar Wilde, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” which is set to take place April 5 to 14. Tickets go on sale March 18.

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