A Wilde Time at the Castle:
The Witty World of Oscar Wilde


At the end of the 19th Century, a peacock of uncommon brilliance appeared on the scene of London society.  His bold flamboyance made him a figure of mockery and fascination but his singular intelligence, wit, sophistication and creativity made him a cultural and literary legend. Oscar Wilde's sparkling conversation and brilliant writing won him a place in history as a beloved “personality” of late 19th Century London. Conversely his doomed love affair with a young man of an aristocratic family plunged him to the depths of public shame, imprisonment and devastating forced labor.  His colorful, conflicted, dazzling and tragic story is the subject of Joslyn Castle's month-long July 2012 festival:  “A Wilde Time at the Castle:  The Witty World of Oscar Wilde”



I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works.” - Oscar Wilde
"Oscar Wilde: From Barbarism to Decadence" World Premiere Drama

The world premiere of a new drama by acclaimed playwright Max Sparber brings the vivid personality of Oscar Wilde to life! Sparber's work has been described by the New York Times as “raw,” “gripping” and “artful.” Variety magazine called his Minstrel Show “compelling” and an “...engrossing historical document.” Actor Kirk Koczanowski portrays Oscar Wilde in this electrifying evening of theatre, exploring Wilde's invention of his own unforgettable persona. Sparber takes the unusual approach of examining the younger Wilde as he formulates the elements that will ensure his ascent to towering celebrity as the toast of London and beyond. The play will be followed by an informative Question and Answer session.
July 1,3,5,6,11,12,13,15 7pm

"A poet can survive anything but a misprint." - Oscar Wilde
Creation of a New Play with Max Sparber

What is the process of creating a new play? How does the playwright synthesize existing research materials, literature, biographical tidbits and his own imagination into an illuminating story? Find out the mechanics of making a play from acclaimed playwright Max Sparber as he discusses his unique process of generating a new work and opens up the doors for questions!
July 3, 9pm

I love acting; it is so much more real than life” - Oscar Wilde
Wilde Cinema Film Screenings -- FREE

Joslyn Castle will show Oscar Wilde-related films free to the public! (Adults only)
July 2 - The Picture of Dorian Gray

July 9 - Biography's Oscar Wilde: Wit's End and Ken Russell's Salome's Last Dance

July 16 - Wilde starring Stephen Fry and Jude Law
Come buy some concessions and settle in for Wilde Cinema!
July 2,9,16 7pm


"The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself."- Oscar Wilde, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”
Poisonous Beauty: Desire, Art, and Other Gross Indecencies in The Picture of Dorian Gray

Responding to praise for his only novel, Wilde famously and succinctly complicates any simplistic equivalencies readers may be tempted to make between the tale's plot and his life, or himself and the characters: "I'm so glad you like that strange coloured book of mine: it contains much of me in it. Basil Hallward is what I think I am; Lord Henry what the world thinks me; Dorian what I would like to be--in other ages perhaps." The Picture of Dorian Gray is many things: a coded exploration of omnivorous desire, an extended philosophical treatise on the relation between art and ethics, and an exercise in classic Wildean witty repartée, all refracted through the lens of a Gothic novel. Join us for an evening combining performance, analysis, and discussion of this masterful contribution to the horror genre as four actors give voice to the lush descriptions and biting social critique contained within Wilde's "strange coloured book."
July 10,24 7pm

“A glass of absinthe is as poetical as anything in the world, what difference is there between a glass of absinthe and a sunset.”- Oscar Wilde
The Forbidden World of Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde had a nearly unquenchable hunger for sensation. As far back as his Oxford days he told a friend, “I want to eat of the fruit of all the trees in the garden of the world.” With great abandon, he pursued beauty and stimulation of all kinds. Toward the end of his life he wrote, “There was no pleasure I did not experience. I threw the pearl of my soul into a cup of wine." As with many a hedonist, his wanderings took him to increasingly shadowy landscapes: "I deliberately went to the depths in my search for new sensations." He imbibed the hallucinogenic potion, absinthe ("it has about it the seduction of strange sins,") indulged himself within the dangerous underworld of gay prostitution ("They were to me the brightest of gilded snakes. Their poison was part of their perfection") and associated with criminals and blackmailers (“It was like feasting with panthers...the danger was half the excitement.") Many of the darker aspects of Wilde's literature are drawn from his fascination with all that was forbidden in his era. At this one-time, late-night presentation, sample Oscar's favorite drink, absinthe (the infamous “Green Fairy), learn how blackmail became the favorite pastime of the 1890s London underworld, meet two of the city's most infamous cross-dressers, and hear a reading of the opium den scene from The Picture of Dorian Gray. Don't miss your one chance to get a glimpse through the keyhole into the "Forbidden World of Oscar Wilde"! Adult audiences only.
July 13, 9:30pm

You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar, and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, you have given me cake! ... I warn you, Miss Cardew, you may go too far!” - Oscar Wilde, from "The Importance of Being Earnest"
Tea Time at the Castle

Two Sundays in July, the Castle will host formal British Teas and the historic rites of English tea time will be brought to Omaha, Nebraska! Crumpets, scones, an impressive exhibit of antique teapots, Wilde-style entertainment, special guest speakers and of course...TEA will all be a part of this charming celebration! (Runs concurrently with "Wilde Child' workshops.)
July 15,22 4pm


The best way to make children good is to make them happy” - Oscar Wilde
Wilde Child Children's Workshops

The father of two boys, Oscar Wilde wrote beautiful, haunting children's stories filled with whimsical imagery and profound morals. Favorites include the “The Selfish Giant” and “The Rose and the Nightingale.” In these workshops, led by storyteller Donis Arens, children will explore these wonderful stories through theatre games and storytelling activities. For age 6 and older. (This event runs concurrently with "Tea Time.")
July 15,22 4pm


America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.”   - Oscar Wilde
Oscar in Omaha: The American Tour
A presentation by Nebraska author, Timothy Schaffert

In black velvet knee breeches, lace cuffs, and silk hose, Oscar Wilde took the stage of Boyd’s Opera House of Omaha in 1882 to lecture on aesthetics. “These Westerners,” writes Carl Uhlarik in the literary journal Prairie Schooner, “hardly over the pioneer stage, these merchants and soldiers, sod breakers, and track layers...were going to hear a young man from the Old World lecture to them on art and its relation to the decoration of the home.” The daily newspapers made much of Wilde’s visit – celebrating him even as they mocked his dandified arrogance – and one thousand people attended the lecture. Novelist Timothy Schaffert discusses Wilde’s American tour, its impact on the cities of Omaha and Lincoln, and how this strange creature appalled not just the newspaper men with his radical view on art and artifice, but Willa Cather too!
July 17, 7pm

Where there is sorrow, there is holy ground” - Oscar Wilde, “De Profundis”
The Wilde Trials

Old Bailey, the main courthouse in London, had never presented a show quite like the three trials that captivated England and much of the literary world in the spring of 1895. Celebrity, sex, surprising twists, blackmail, important issues of art and morality – the case was a pressure cooker threatening to boil over. Gay men were fleeing England in droves to protect themselves from mounting public hostility as Oscar Wilde sat contemplating whether to do the same. He chose to stand trial. Wilde's passionate love affair with Lord Alfred Douglas was considered by late 19th Century British society to be a case of “gross indecency,” punishable by law. When questioned in court for this offense, Oscar spoke eloquently of “the love that dare not speak its name.” At his final trial, though faced with the possibility of a daunting punishment, he didn't shrink from enobling love between men. His brilliant and profound statements are an enduring part of the famous court records, and though he was punished with the harshest sentence that he could have received short of execution, and ultimately died as a result of it, his courage and stoicism have made him a hero to the gay community. What are the most inspiring moments of his trials? How did the hardships and deprivation he endured in prison spawn his richest and most soul-searching art? How does 19th Century British law compare to modern day American law regarding the question of homosexuality? A panel of insightful commentators, community leaders and specialists will take on these questions and many more. Actors will perform excerpts from Wilde's final two works, De Profundis and The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Come and be a part of this scintillating in-depth exploration of “The Trials” of Oscar Wilde!
July 18, 19, 7pm


"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.” - Oscar Wilde
Wilde Fashion -Then and Now

Oscar Wilde is known as one of the great dandies of history. His self-invented style made him the poster boy of the Aesthetic Movement. His fashion innovations captured the fascination of his era as he turned his differences into strengths and boldly celebrated his individuality. His style eccentricities helped him to forge a celebrity status nearly unequalled in his time. This event is a tribute to Wilde's unabashed fabulousness and the fabulousness in all who love Victorian fashion. On this special night, you will be treated to an exhibit of exotic antique fashion plates, colorful costume renderings for Wilde plays and authentic Victorian era garments and artifacts on loan from the Durham Museum collection, all on display in the elegant Castle Library...and that's all BEFORE the show starts! First, Lindsay Pape, head of costuming at Creighton University will take you on a multi-media tour through the changing styles during the decades of Oscar's life. Then she will describe his sartorial impact on his era and discuss the idea of the “dandy” in fashion. Next, Laci Neal, designer and fashion historian, will bring us up to the modern day to show how late Victorian fashion has spanned the century to inspire the modern counter-cultural aesthetic movements of “Steam Punk,” the Japanese Gothic Lolitas, “Neo-Victorianism,” African dandies and modern corsetry. The evening comes to a climax with an exciting live fashion show! Afterwards, enjoy refreshments as you mingle with the models in their finery. Feel free to snap photos! Come dressed in your own unique interpretation of Victorian fashion! It's sure to be a “Wilde” ride so pop on your top hat, grab your parasol and sashay over to the castle in style!
July 21, 22 7pm

Off- Site Events

July 7 Acting Wilde workshop has been cancelled.

If you want a red rose,” said the Tree, “you must build it out of music by moonlight, and stain it with your own heart’s-blood.” - Oscar Wilde, from “The Rose and the Nightingale"
Wilde About the Opera: Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience
Opera Omaha Headquarters, 1850 Farnam in Downtown Omaha

Join a cast of distinguished singers at Opera Omaha for an evening of poetry and song from one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most irresistibly delicious operas, Patience.  Written as a satire of the aesthetic movement in England, the opera is packed with lush melodies, brilliant characters, and charming comedy that has entranced audiences for more than a century. The literary persona of Oscar Wilde looms large over the story of Patience, with its stinging satire of late nineteenth-century aesthetic poets and their rapturous devotees.  If you love Gilbert and Sullivan, you will not want to miss the chance to see selections from this opera come to life before your eyes, as we delve into the creation and history of a lasting musical monument to Oscar Wilde and his times. Event is held at Opera Omaha headquarters, 1850 Farnam, Omaha.
July 23, 6pm

It is through art and art only that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence.” - Oscar Wilde
Wilde Women Art Exhibit at New BLK gallery
1213 Jones in the Old Market

Indulge in an evening of art, absinthe, and performance honoring the wit and whimsy of Oscar Wilde. Omaha's edgiest gallery, New BLK, in collaboration with the Wilde Festival presents a multi-media exhibition inspired by the flamboyant life and works of the legendary Oscar Wilde. Join us for a dynamic evening of art, fashion, and puppet theatre while enjoying craft cocktails from the absinthe bar. The show will feature nine women artists in genres from painting, illustration, photography, and sculpture to performance art and couture.
July 20 opening 8pm; exhibit runs through July 31

"Gwendolen, it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?" - Oscar Wilde, "The Importance of Being Earnest"
Wilde Rep Play-Reading Series at the Blue Barn
Blue Barn Theatre, 614 S. 11th St. in the Old Market

The Wilde Festival in collaboration with Omaha's much acclaimed Blue Barn Theatre will present readings of Wilde's most iconic play, The Importance of Being Earnest and of a play by New York playwright, Rob Urbinati, West Moon Street inspired by Wilde's novella, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime. The plays will be read on alternating nights in late July. Through this series, a company of veteran actors, led by director Hughston Walkinshaw, will demonstrate the effervescent wit that made Wilde a legend! All performances at the Blue Barn EXCEPT July 30, when it is at Joslyn Castle.
"Earnest" July  28 @ Blue Barn 7pm; July 30 @ Joslyn Castle 7pm
"West Moon" July 29 @ Blue Barn 7pm


Stay tuned for more news and informative links for the scheduled events at










"Oscar Wilde:  From Barbarism to Decadence"

World Premiere Drama 7pm


Wilde Cinema Dorian Gray 7pm





"Oscar Wilde:  From Barbarism to Decadence"   7pm


Creation of a New Play with  Playwright Max Sparber   9pm



"Oscar Wilde:  From Barbarism to Decadence"

World Premiere Drama 7pm


"Oscar Wilde:  From Barbarism to Decadence"

World Premiere Drama 7pm






Wilde Cinema

Double feature:


Oscar Wilde:  Wit's End plus Ken Russell's Salome's Last Dance  7 pm


 Poisonous Beauty:    Desire, Art & Other Gross Indecencies in The Picture of Dorian Gray  7pm


"Oscar Wilde:  From Barbarism to Decadence"

World Premiere Drama 7pm


"Oscar Wilde:  From Barbarism to Decadence"

World Premiere Drama 7pm


"Oscar Wilde:  From Barbarism to Decadence" World Premiere Drama 7pm

The Forbidden World of Oscar Wilde  9:30 pm




Tea Time at the Castle  4pm  

Wilde Child  4pm

"Oscar Wilde:  From Barbarism to Decadence"

World Premiere Drama   7pm


Wilde Cinema

Wilde starring Stephen Fry and Jude Law  7pm



"Oscar in Omaha: The American Tour"

with Tim Schaffert 7pm


The Wilde Trials

Dramatic reading and panel discussion



The Wilde Trials

Dramatic reading and panel discussion


20 Off-Site Event

Wilde Women art exhibit at New BLK Gallery, 1213 Jones in the Old Market

Opening  8pm Continues through July 31.


Wilde Fashion - Then and Now


Exhibit, multimedia presentation, live fashion show.



Tea Time at the Castle  4pm

Wilde Child  4pm

Wilde Fashion - Then and Now 7pm

Exhibit, multimedia presentation, live fashion show.

23  Off-Site Event

Wilde About Opera Gilbert & Sullivan's Patience   6pm

Opera Omaha's headquarters,

1850 Farnam


Poisonous Beauty:    Desire, Art & Other Gross Indecencies in The Picture of Dorian Gray  7pm




28 Off-Site Event

Wilde Rep Play Reading Series

The Importance of Being Earnest

Blue Barn Theatre  614 S 11th in the Old Market   7pm

29 Off-Site Event

Wilde Rep Play Reading Series

West Moon Street

Blue Barn Theatre  614 S 11th in the Old Market   7pm


Wilde Rep Play Reading Series

The Importance of Being Earnest    7pm


At Joslyn Castle