Magazine article American Theatre

Wilde Things

Magazine article American Theatre

Wilde Things

Article excerpt

To the uninitiated, theatre in Orlando has always been considered some kind of bizarre extension of the Mouse. But a cooperative effort among more than a dozen of the area's theatre companies has resulted in a one-of-a-kind collaboration--the current Go Wilde season, in which 18 separate productions, lectures and readings are scheduled through-out 1999-2000 to celebrate the life and works of Oscar Wilde.

The group effort is extraordinary because, until very recently, this particular theatre community had rarely agreed on anything. Chalk up the change to the Central Florida Theatre Alliance, an association that pulled together Orlando's companies for the first time last year and already boasts nearly 1,000 members.

Credit's also due to Jim Helsinger, artistic director of the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival, who first conceived of Go Wilde as a marketing ploy. Helsinger wanted to present Moises Kaufman's Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde as part of the festival's current season, but as he puts it, "An Off-Broadway hit in New York City does not mean a sold-out show in Orlando. If I wanted ticket sales, I needed Central Florida audiences to know Wilde anti connect his famous works to Gross Indecency."

Every season Helsinger directs the first show at Theatre UCF, the student company at the University of Central Florida. So this time around, he proposed The Importance of Being Earnest and then approached the theatre alliance suggesting other companies join in. …

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