Finger-posts, Limelight, Staircases, and Other Delights: Oscar Wilde’s Salomé as Popular Drama

Joseph Donohue


The article raises the question of what the term “popular drama” really means. Taking Oscar Wilde’s play Salomé as an extended test case, it argues that, despite its apparent identity as an esoteric, Symbolist-oriented work, the play possesses features common to the structure and ethos of popular plays on West End stages. Examining two prominent features of current staging, limelight and staircases, he intentionally muddies the waters, hoping to provoke further, productive thought about an elusive term. Joseph Donohue, a theatre historian and textual scholar, is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is currently editing a group of Oscar Wilde’s plays, including Salomé and The Importance of Being Earnest, for the Oxford University Press collected works of Wilde.

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Popular Entertainment Studies ISSN 1837-9303