Russia Cuts Off Funds for a Gay-Themed U.S. Play About Oscar Wilde | Playbill

News Russia Cuts Off Funds for a Gay-Themed U.S. Play About Oscar Wilde The Moscow New Drama Theater has been effectively banned from staging Moisés Kaufman's 1997 play Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, according to the New York Times.

Kaufman, who was tapped to direct the show, told the Times that the theatre had contacted him to inform him that the Russian government was barring any foreign funds aiding the production. Without the funds from the U.S. government the show will not be able to go on.

Kaufman believes that the real cause of the ban is the gay themes in the work, in light of the recent official hostility towards homosexuality in Russia that has been reported world-wide.

The play dramatizes court transcripts from the 1895 prosecutions of Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest)--in which he was accused of homosexual relationships, a crime in that time and place. Gross Indecency was scheduled to be performed in Moscow this fall with a company of Russian actors. According to the interview, the production is now facing indefinite postponement.

The Times quoted Mark Toner, a spokesman for the State Department, saying the agency had provided a grant for the Moscow production as part of its effort “to promote American voices through theater and other artistic mediums." The Russian government banned that grant.

Viacheslav Dolgachev, artistic director of The Moscow New Drama Theater, where the show was to have been staged, responded by saying the project had been postponed, not canceled, but made no further comment to the newspaper. "The opportunity to re-enact the Oscar Wilde trials in Moscow at this time would have been incredibly relevant, and also would have led to the kind of dialogue that is so sorely needed there at this time," Kaufman told the Times.

Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde similarly caused a stir in Kansas City, MO, when a church group protested a local production at Missouri Repertory Theatre in 2000. It was last seen Off-Broadway as part of Gayfest NYC in 2013. 

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