A Moscow production of a play about Oscar Wilde has been blocked by the Russian government, apparently because of its gay subject matter.
The Moscow New Drama Theater had planned to present Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde this fall, in a production directed by the play’s writer, Moisés Kaufman. Kaufman is artistic director of New York–based Tectonic Theater Project, which premiered Gross Indecency in 1997.
Now, however, the Russian government has “barred the Moscow company from accepting foreign funds for artistic productions, prompting indefinite postponement of the collaboration,” The New York Times reports. The U.S. State Department had provided a grant for the production, and it said the project was canceled, although the Moscow theater group described the situation as a postponement rather than a cancellation. Russian government officials declined comment to the Times.
No matter what, Russian audiences won’t see the play anytime soon. Kaufman said he believes Gross Indecency ran afoul of Russia’s nationwide ban on “gay propaganda” in its portrayal of esteemed gay author Wilde, who was persecuted for his sexuality. The law, adopted in 2013, bans any positive discussion of LGBT people or issues in forums accessible to minors.
“The opportunity to reenact 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,” Kaufman told the Times.
Tectonic has produced numerous plays dealing with LGBT themes, including The Laramie Project Cycle, portraying the impact of gay college student Matthew Shepard’s 1998 murder on the town of Laramie, Wyo.