U.Va. Press, Drama Department Present Reading of Oscar Wilde's 'Salomé'

November 22, 2011

November 22, 2011 — A dramatic reading of a newly published translation of Oscar Wilde's French-language play, "Salomé," will be presented on Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Live Arts Theater.

Kate Burke, a professor of drama in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences, will direct graduate students in giving the staged reading, which is sponsored by the University of Virginia Press.

Live Arts is located at 123 E. Water St. The cost to reserve a ticket in advance is $25, with RSVPs due by Nov. 30. If seats remain, attendees may pay what they can at the door.

The reading will be followed by a discussion with the cast; a book signing by the translator, Joseph Donohue; and a reception. For information, contact Emily Grandstaff at 434-982-2932.

Wilde wrote "Salomé" in French, and it was published in 1893. Donohue's new translation of the New Testament story has recast Wilde's radical drama in the natural idiomatic language of our own day. Donohue, professor emeritus of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, is co-editor of an award-winning critical edition of Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest."

Presenting a colloquial American English version of Wilde's consciously stylized French, Donohue gives full value to the Irish author's dark ruminations on evil and perversity. This new "Salomé" is calculated to bring both readers and playgoers into close, disturbing confrontation with one of the most erotic and bloodiest sequences of biblical lore. At the same time, it aims to lead readers and audiences alike to rediscover perennially significant themes of love, death, power and individuality.

The play was first translated into English in 1894 by Wilde's young friend, Lord Alfred Douglas, but Wilde was not pleased with the outcome. Douglas' stilted, inaccurate version, however, has retained a long-standing place on the stage.

Russell Jackson, a drama professor at the University of Birmingham, wrote, "This is an impressive achievement, rendering into clear and effective modern English an important play not well-served by the standard translation. The effect is not unlike that of seeing a painting that has been restored."

Complementing Donohue's translation is a set of engravings by master illustrator Barry Moser, an art professor at Smith College. He is the illustrator of numerous works of literature, including editions of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and The Holy Bible.

— By Anne Bromley

Media Contact

Anne E. Bromley

University News Associate Office of University Communications