Kevin Spacey received a standing ovation at the Sheldonian Theatre after performing a brief scene of Shakespeare as part of a lecture about cancel culture. It was his first performance since being cleared of sexual assault.
The Oscar-winning actor performed a five-minute scene from Timon of Athens, Shakespeare’s satire of wealth, greed and betrayal, during a lecture at the Sheldonian. It was held in memory of the late traditionalist conservative philosopher Roger Scruton in a lecture titled The Life and Legacy of Sir Roger Scruton.
The play, written in the early 1600s, tells the story of a rich citizen of Athens who spends his wealth on parasitic writers and artists. After losing his wealth, all his former friends abandon him. On the surface of it, the performance was a means for Spacey to discuss his own metaphorical exile from the film industry in the wake of the sexual assault allegations.
Douglas Murray, a neo-conservative columnist, invited Spacey to perform in Oxford to deliver the lecture. He told The Times that Timon of Athens was about what “happens when a society drops a person for no reason.”
This performance comes only days after the West End cinema The Prince Charles cancelled its offer to host the premiers of the film Control, after the venue’s managers found out it starred Spacey. Within the film, he doesn’t appear in person but rather voices the vengeful villain who has taken control of a car.
Last July, Spacey was found not guilty of sexually assaulting four men after a four week trial at Southwark Crown Court in London. The prosecution of the trial accused Mr Spacey of being a “sexual bully” who utilised his fame and power to abuse his alleged victims.