The JOOT Theatre Company

Oscar Wilde's Salome

Performed 12 - 13 March 2010

Programme Notes

Oscar Wilde's Salome announces itself on the 1894 title page as 'A Tragedy in One Act', but it is tragedy in a particularly Wildean, non-heroic sense, infused with fin-de-siècle decadence and laced with the blackest humour. Wilde's self-consciously exquisite, often flippant script acts as a thin veneer over the cruelty, lust for power and gratuitous violence that drive the inhabitants of Herod's court, and renders their motives and actions all the more insanely grotesque. The play says far more about Wilde and his world of the 1890s than about its nominally biblical setting, and JOOT chose to set it primarily in stark black and white as a conscious echo of Aubrey Beardsley's iconic series of illustrations to the first edition.

As a prelude to the main action of Salome, the production opened with a short fifteenth-century mystery play. The anonymous Massacre of the Innocents from the N-town cycle (so called from the unidentified location thus tantalisingly named at the head of the manuscript) depicts the most infamous exploit of Herod's own father and namesake, a stereotypical comic tyrant and a common object of derision to any mediaeval audience. The device of incorporating it in Wilde's play as an entertainment given before Herod and his queen, Herodias, enabled us to invite comparisons between two differing, yet not dissimilar, studies in power and corruption, and the additional introductory and linking material was specially written for this production by Anthony Gomez-Salvador.

The origin of the work has its roots in the aftermath of the performance of Everyman that the JOOT theatre company was invited to give at the Sorbonne in 2008. Following the show we were asked if we could think of another play, which would be relevant to a French audience that we could return and perform in the near future. Jo George was working on Oscar Wilde at the time, his play Salome, which was originally written in French, immediately suggested itself. JOOT’s remit, however, had always been to perform mediaeval drama and Salome is, of course, a product of the later nineteenth century. However, at the same time, Jo George and a colleague, Dr. Sandra Wilson, were beginning to work on our ongoing research project Contemporising the Mystery Play. The play chosen for this project was The Massacre of the Innocents in which King Herod the Great orders the deaths of all the young boys in his kingdom in the hope of killing the infant Christ. Although the Herods in the two plays are different (Salome features Herod the Great’s son, Herod Antipas) we began to play with the idea of combining Salome with The Massacre of the Innocents.

The opulent crowns in the performance, props central to our research project, were made by three of Sandra Wilson’s Jewellery and Metal Design students from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, University of Dundee: Elspeth Lauder, Jennifer Ho and Jessica Howarth.

The Cast

The Cast of The Massacre of the Innocents

Herod - Grahame Miller
First Soldier - Madeleine Daldry
Second Soldier - Harriet Brace
Death - Grahame Cain
Devil - James Mark
First Woman - Laura Derbyshire
Steward, Second Woman - Kim Stringer
Angel, Minstrel - Mark Bonington
Joseph - Anthony Gomez-Salvador
Mary - Angela Bourne
Baby Jesus - Samuel Gomez

The Cast of Salome

Salome - Hollie Whitfield
Iokanaan - Grahame Miller
Herod - Steven Ballingall
Herodias - Ruth Frame
First Soldier - Madeleine Daldry
Second Soldier - Harriet Brace
Young Syrian - James Mark
Page of Herodias - Tahmina Nizam
Tigellinus - Christina Fuehrer
The Cappodocian - Grahame Cain
The Nubian - Laura Derbyshire
Jews & Nazarenes - Mark Bonington, Grahame Cain, Laura Derbyshire, Andrew Mckay
Slaves - Andrew Mckay, Kim Stringer

Piano and tambourine for both plays - David Robb (BIG thank you!)
Lighting - Brian Hoyle & Danni DeFazio
Photography - Danni DeFazio
Director & Producer - Jo. George

We would especially like to thank Sam Longden for all of his hard work on the designing and making of the set. Oscar Wilde would have loved it.

Photographer: DANNi De FAZIO. Additional photographs from the performance are available on the photographer's Flickr site.

 Further Information