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|Vera; or, The Nihilists|
|Written by||Oscar Wilde|
|Date premiered||20 August 1883|
|Place premiered|| The Union Square Theatre,|
New York, USA
Vera; or, The Nihilists is a play by Oscar Wilde. It is a melodramatic tragedy set in Russia and is loosely based on the life of Vera Zasulich.It was Wilde's first play, and the first to be performed. In 1880, with only a few copies privately printed, arrangements were made with noted actresses for a production in the United Kingdom, but this never materialized. The first public performance was in New York City in 1883 at the Union Square Theatre, based on revisions made by Wilde while lecturing in America in 1882. The play was not a success and folded after only one week. It is rarely revived.
A play is a form of literature written by a playwright, usually consisting of dialogue or singing between characters, intended for theatrical performance rather than just reading. Plays are performed at a variety of levels, from Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theater, to Community theatre, as well as university or school productions. There are rare dramatists, notably George Bernard Shaw, who have had little preference as to whether their plays were performed or read. The term "play" can refer to both the written texts of playwrights and to their complete theatrical performance.
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the circumstances of his criminal conviction for homosexuality, imprisonment, and early death at age 46.
A melodrama is a dramatic work in which the plot, which is typically sensational and designed to appeal strongly to the emotions, takes precedence over detailed characterization. Characters are often simply drawn, and may appear stereotyped. Melodramas are typically set in the private sphere of the home, and focus on morality and family issues, love, and marriage, often with challenges from an outside source, such as a "temptress”, an aristocratic villain.
At the time of writing, the reform-minded Tsar Alexander II was involved in a struggle with revolutionaries who sought to assassinate him (and eventually succeeded). Though none of Wilde's characters correspond to actual Russian people of the time, the above situation was well-known both to Wilde and to the audience for which he was writing. It has been suggested that the plot was inspired by true events. In 1878, three years before the play's completion, Vera Zasulich shot the St Petersburg Chief of Police, Trepov.Wilde described himself as a Socialist, although Ellmann describes his Socialism as more "a general hatred of tyranny" than a specific political belief.
Alexander II was the Emperor of Russia from 2 March 1855 until his assassination on 13 March 1881. He was also the King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Finland.
Vera Ivanovna Zasulich was a Russian Menshevik writer and revolutionary.
Fedor Fedorovich Trepov Senior (1809–1889) was a Russian government official. He was a natural child of Friedrich Wilhelm von Stenger (1770–1832) and was registered in the Russian nobility on 4 May 1837.
Marie Prescott and her husband, Mr Perzel purchased the rights to perform the play, and she was the leading actress in its first performance at the Union Square Theatre. Wilde travelled to America for the second time in his life specifically to oversee the production.
The play was withdrawn after one week. Mr Perzel stated to newspapers "the play is withdrawn simply because it did not pay," citing that he had lost $2,500 on the piece the previous week. He also implied that he had hoped Wilde himself would lecture between the acts, allowing him to capitalise on Wilde's popularity as a public speaker.
PERSONS IN THE PROLOGUE.
PERSONS IN THE PLAY.
Soldiers, Conspirators, &c.
Vera is a barmaid in her father's tavern, which is situated along a road to the prison camps in Siberia. A gang of prisoners stop at the tavern. Vera immediately recognises her brother Dmitri as one of the prisoners. He begs her to go to Moscow and join the Nihilists, a terrorist group trying to assassinate the Czar, and avenge his imprisonment. She and her father's manservant Michael leave to join the Nihilists.
Siberia is an extensive geographical region spanning much of Eurasia and North Asia. Siberia has historically been a part of modern Russia since the 17th century.
Moscow is the capital and most populous city of Russia, with 13.2 million residents within the city limits, 17 million within the urban area and 20 million within the metropolitan area. Moscow is one of Russia's federal cities.
Terrorism is, in the broadest sense, the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror among masses of people; or fear to achieve a religious or political aim. It is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime or in war against non-combatants. The terms "terrorist" and "terrorism" originated during the French Revolution of the late 18th century but gained mainstream popularity in the 1970s in news reports and books covering the conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Basque Country and Palestine. The increased use of suicide attacks from the 1980s onwards was typified by the September 11 attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. in 2001.
Five years later, Vera has become the Nihilists' top assassin, and is wanted across Europe. She is in love with a fellow Nihilist named Alexis: however, Nihilists are sworn never to marry. A Nihilist meeting is nearly broken up by soldiers, but Alexis thwarts the soldiers by revealing his true identity: he is the Tsarevich, heir to the Russian throne. This act earns him the further admiration of Vera and the hatred of the Nihilists.
Assassination is the act of killing a prominent person for either political, religious or monetary reasons.
Tsarevich is a Slavic title given to tsars' sons. Under the 1797 Pauline house law, the title was discontinued and replaced with Tsesarevich for the heir apparent alone. His younger brothers were called Velikiy Knjaz, meaning Grand Prince, although it was commonly translated to English as Grand Duke. English sources often confused the terms Tsarevich and Tsesarevich.
At a council meeting, Tsar Ivan and his cruel epigrammatic minister Prince Paul Maraloffski criticise Tsarovitch Alexis's democratic leanings, but the Tsar is assassinated by Michael after the Tsarovitch opens the window.
Alexis ascends the throne and exiles Prince Paul Maraloffski, not to Siberia, but to Paris. Maraloffski joins the Nihilists to kill Alexis. The task of assassinating the Tsar is given to Vera. She must infiltrate the palace, stab the Tsar and throw the dagger out the window as a signal to Nihilist agents below. If she does not, the agents will break in and kill him. Vera is reluctant to kill the man she loves, though.
Alexis returns to the palace after his coronation, intending to end injustice in Russia during his reign. Vera enters the palace, knife at the ready. Alexis asks her to marry him. She accepts, but then she hears the agents outside crying out for the signal. She stabs herself and throws the dagger out the window, and the agent departs satisfied.
The play’s original reception was mostly critical.
Reviewing the first production, the New York Mirror described it as "among the highest order of plays," "masterly," and "the noblest contribution to its literature the stage has received in many years".Other newspapers reviews were very critical: "Long-drawn dramatic rot" (New York Herald), "wearisome" (New York Times), and "little better than fizzle" (New York Tribune). Punch printed that it was "from all accounts, except the Poet's own, Vera Bad". Pilot, meanwhile, complimented the script, and laid blame on Prescott as an "inferior actress".
Since its original production, Vera has been very rarely revived. In 1987, Wilde's biographer Richard Ellmann described Vera as "a wretched play," yet noted that "it did not fall disastrously below the standard set by drama in a century when, as Stendhal said, plays could not be written."
The Importance of Being Earnest, A Trivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. First performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James's Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personæ to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play's major themes are the triviality with which it treats institutions as serious as marriage, and the resulting satire of Victorian ways. Some contemporary reviews praised the play's humour and the culmination of Wilde's artistic career, while others were cautious about its lack of social messages. Its high farce and witty dialogue have helped make The Importance of Being Earnest Wilde's most enduringly popular play.
Lady Windermere's Fan, A Play About a Good Woman is a four-act comedy by Oscar Wilde, first performed on Saturday, 20 February 1892, at the St James's Theatre in London.
Sergey Gennadiyevich Nechayev was a Russian communist revolutionary associated with the nihilist movement and known for his single-minded pursuit of revolution by any means necessary, including terrorism. He was the author of the radical Catechism of a Revolutionary.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol is a poem by Oscar Wilde, written in exile in Berneval-le-Grand, after his release from Reading Gaol on 19 May 1897. Wilde had been incarcerated in Reading after being convicted of homosexual offences in 1895 and sentenced to two years' hard labour in prison.
Vera Nikolayevna Figner Filippova was a revolutionary political activist born in Kazan Governorate, Russian Empire, into a noble family of ethnic German and Russian descent.
Sonya "Sophia" Adler, also known by her early stage name Sonya Michelson, was a Ukrainian actress who was one of the first women to perform in Yiddish theater in Imperial Russia. Later she became the first wife of actor Jacob Adler, with whom she relocated to London in 1883, after Yiddish theater was banned in Russia.
The nihilist movement was a Russian movement in the 1860s that rejected all authorities. The word nihilism derives from the Latin nihil, meaning "nothing". After the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, the nihilists were known throughout Europe as proponents of the use of violence in order to bring about political change.
Robert Harborough Sherard was an anti-semitic English writer and journalist. He was a friend, and the first biographer, of Oscar Wilde, as well as being Wilde's most prolific biographer in the first half of the twentieth century.
Lev Grigorievich Deutsch, also known as Leo Deutsch was a Russian Bolshevik Revolutionary and one of four founding members of Russia's Marxist Organisation, the precursor of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party.
Olga Spiridonovna Lyubatovich was a Russian revolutionary and member of Narodnaya Volya.
The Duchess of Padua is a play by Oscar Wilde. It is a five-act melodramatic tragedy set in Padua and written in blank verse. It was written for the actress Mary Anderson in early 1883 while in Paris. After she turned it down, it was abandoned until its first performance at the Broadway Theatre in New York City under the title Guido Ferranti on 26 January 1891, where it ran for three weeks. It has been rarely revived or studied.
Union Square Theatre was the name of two different theatres in New York City near Union Square. The first was a Broadway theatre that opened in 1870, was converted into a cinema in 1921 and closed in 1936. The second was an Off-Broadway theatre that opened in 1985 and closed in 2016.
This is a bibliography of works by Oscar Wilde, a late-Victorian Irish writer. Chiefly remembered today as a playwright, especially for The Importance of being Earnest, and as the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray; Wilde's oeuvre includes criticism, poetry, children's fiction, and a large selection of reviews, lectures and journalism. His private correspondence has also been published.
De Profundis is a letter written by Oscar Wilde during his imprisonment in Reading Gaol, to "Bosie".
Oscar Wilde's colourful life and disappointing end have made him a continual fascination for biographers, beginning soon after his death by people known to him.
Duke Constantine Frederick Peter of Oldenburg was a son of Duke Peter Georgievich of Oldenburg and his wife Princess Therese of Nassau-Weilburg Known in the court of Tsar Nicholas II as Prince Constantine Petrovich Oldenburgsky, he was the father of the Russian Counts and Countesses von Zarnekau.
Oscar is an American opera in two acts, with music by composer Theodore Morrison and a libretto by Morrison and English opera director John Cox. The opera, Morrison's first, is based on the life of Oscar Wilde, focused on his trial and imprisonment in Reading Gaol. It was a co-commission and co-production between The Santa Fe Opera and Opera Philadelphia. This work received its world premiere at The Santa Fe Opera on 27 July 2013. Opera Philadelphia first presented the revised version of the opera on 6 February 2015.
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