Oscar Wilde recalls "That Tiger Life"
Written & performed by John H. Bartlett to commemorate the centenary of the writer's death.
"A sparkling and witty one-man show ... Don't miss him!"
"A glorious amalgam of well-placed Wildeisms."
John H. Bartlett gives an intimate portrait of the witty, outspoken Oscar Wilde as he reminisces and reflects on ...
"That Tiger Life"
A major contribution to the success of the presentation is Robin Davis' playing of Nocturnes by the Romantic Irish composer John Field.
"That Tiger Life" was launched at The Music Room, Exeter Central Library on 7th July 2000.
Oscar Wilde 1854 - 1900
I have known no more charming, no more quickening, no more delightful spirit ... I do not believe that in all the realms of death there is a more fascinating or more delightful companion.
- Frank Harris
Everybody has heard of Oscar Wilde: "A handbag!" is as famous as "To be or not to be", even with people who never step inside a theatre.
The Picture of Dorian Gray and the delightful stories still sell. His stage comedies are deservedly favourites with theatre-goers. Fewer people are acquainted with the ethical and moral writings, but abroad they are regarded as highly as, if not more highly than, the popular works. Controversy still reigns in academic circles as to whether he is a great or minor writer; perhaps the poetry does not stand up well today, but the plays and stories still entertain and challenge, while the philosophical works are staggering in their intellectual percipience. Wilde's disadvantage is that he is funny even when, perhaps especially when, he is being serious.
Wilde's personal charm shines through in all his writings. Among his acquaintance Oscar was widely adored (he was also hated by a jealous and doltish minority), his wit was legendary, often waspish but far from malicious; his generosity was prodigal, to the point of foolishness; his political humanity was unquestionable. He brought colour, subversion, humour and good-nature into a stuffy and moribund society, and pointed it in the direction of the twentieth century; he was the most modern mind of his time. That he committed some unwise, immoral and exploitative acts is indisputable, and inexcusable. He never claimed to be a saint, and although he had some sense of martyrdom (he always saw his life in the most dramatic terms), his elevation to some kind of homosexual beatification would have amused him (he would probably have ordered some robes). He was, for all his crimes, treated shamefully and disproportionately.
Of all British writers Wilde is second only to Shakespeare in the number of books written about him. Unlike Shakespeare's, Wilde's life is fully documented, a life crowded with colour and incident,and achievement. His story is a dramatic one, and countless authors have committed their views of it to paper in various factual and fictional guises; there have been novels, plays and filmscripts about him as well as scholarly and popular biographies, and learned investigations of his works. He never wrote an autobiography or kept a diary, a fact that has given some creative writers a free rein to invent such things from their own imagination. The current presentation is just such a creation.
Every portrait is a portrait of the artist. That I revere Wilde as a thinker, as a writer, as a human being, and now, steeped in his writings as I am, as a friend, will be obvious to all who see this performance. I make no apology for it.
- John H. Bartlett