Updated UPDATE (May 19): New Venue Found, the Show Goes On…
Sunday, June 14, 7:30 pm
New York Theater Workshop
79 East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
*Discount available to NCAC supporters:
for rows B, E, and F, enter discount code GreenFestivalFun
for rows G, H, J, and L, enter discount code PFAC2015
UPDATE (May 15): Anti-Censorship Event… Censored!
The theatrical benefit for NCAC was canceled by the host venue over its opposition to the content of the evening's program.
Playwrights For A Cause, presented by the Planet Connections arts festival, was to feature new works by Erik Ehn, Halley Feiffer, Israel Horovitz and Neil LaBute, along with discussions about censorship and inclusion in the performing arts. It was scheduled for June 14 at The Sheen Center in New York City, with the proceeds to benefit the National Coalition Against Censorship.
But the show was canceled this week by Sheen management, which sought to make artistic changes to the show. Specifically, Sheen officials wanted to change the title of LaBute's play Mohammed Gets A Boner. They also sought changes to the remarks of some of the panelists who were scheduled to speak about censorship issues.
But their suggestions fell on deaf ears. As Glory Kadigan, the founder of Planet Connections, put it: "We refuse to alter Neil's script, or any of our speakers’ speeches, and we refuse to present Playwrights For A Cause without any of them."
"It's hard to imagine a more ironic outcome: a venue attempts to alter, edit and censor the works that are being performed at an anti-censorship event," said NCAC Executive Director Joan Bertin. "And when the artists won't compromise their vision, the venue cancels the show."
Playwright LaBute said he was "saddened by this recent decision by the Sheen Center," and added:
This event was meant to shine another light on censorship and it was unexpected to have the plug pulled, quite literally, by an organization that touts the phrase 'for thought and culture' on their own website. Both in life and in the arts, this is not a time to hide or be afraid; recent events have begged for artists and citizens to stand and be counted.
Neil LaBute, Halley Feiffer, Israel Horovitz and More to Address Censorship with World Premiere Plays
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, the political controversy surrounding the release of The Interview, and continued suppression of plays, books, and art in American schools, libraries and museums, the battle for freedom of speech and expression is more essential than ever. Planet Connections Theatre Festivity will present an evening of world premiere plays by Erik Ehn, Halley Feiffer, Israel Horovitz and Neil LaBute addressing censorship in the arts in Playwrights for a Cause, to be held at 7:30pm on June 14, 2015 at the Sheen Center, located at 18 Bleecker Street in New York City.
The performances will be followed by a talkback with NCAC and all four playwrights on issues surrounding censorship in the arts. The event concludes with an Opening Night Party which will also celebrate the 2015 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, which begins June 15. Speeches will be made by a handful of the 2015 artists regarding their work as artists and the importance of art as a tool for social justice.
All proceeds from ticket sales for Playwrights for a Cause will benefit the National Coalition Against Censorship. Tickets range from $35 to $100 and are available here.
"I'm so happy to be working on a project like this, one that will not only be a fun night of theater but will also directly benefit the National Coalition Against Censorship," said Neil LaBute. "The NCAC is doing really important work at a time when people are actively striving to take away some of our most basic freedoms. I, for one, feel that these are the front lines for an artist–when you are asked to write/fight for what you've said you believe in. It is no longer enough to pay lip service to these ideas–it's time to stand up and be counted."
The world premiere plays include:
Three Speech by Erik Ehn
Directed by Glory Kadigan
A woman dreams her way through a free-speech scenario, cascading through levels of rage and recollection. What is the relationship between free and the uniquely, preciously valued?
A Play About New Mexico by Halley Feiffer
Directed by GT Upchurch
A young female playwright meets with the Artistic Director of a prominent theater company. The Artistic Director has commissioned a script from her. Or so she thinks.
Breaking Philip Glass by Israel Horovitz
Directed by Glory Kadigan
Paul confronts an art gallery’s manager about recently-discovered erotic photos to be featured in the gallery’s upcoming exhibition. Paul’s mother is the main female model in the photos, shot 50 years earlier. The gallery does not have permission from Paul’s family to present the photos – but that’s not going to stop the gallery from exhibiting and promoting previously-unseen work by a world renowned photographer.
Mohammad Gets A Boner by Neil LaBute
Directed by Marco Calvani
The prophet "Mohammed" stands on a barren stage, recalling the first time he made love to a white woman. Is this reality or a theatrical convention? Where do the lines between 'satire' and 'censorship' intersect or is nothing sacred when it comes to the theater?
Erik Ehn is the former dean of theater at CalArts, and is currently head of playwriting and professor of theatre and performance studies at Brown University. His published works include The Saint Plays, Beginner, and 13 Christs. He recently collaborated with Janie Geiser on Invisible Glass, which premiered at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater in April 2005. He's Soulographie: Our Genocides, a series of 17 plays, was presented as a two-day marathon at La MaMa in 2012. Together the plays examine the relationship of 20th century America to genocide in the United States, Central America, and East Africa. He is co-founder and co-artistic director, alongside Lisa Bielawa, of the Tenderloin Opera Company in San Francisco and also an artistic associate of San Francisco's Theatre of Yugen. He is a co-founder of the RAT movement, an international network of alternative theaters. He was a recipient of the Alpert Award in the Arts in 2002 and the Whiting Writers Award in 1997. He is the founder of an annual conference called "Arts in the One World," which brings together performing artists, scholars, and human rights activists to investigate theater on the subject of genocide and reconciliation. He also travels to Rwanda and Uganda annually with students and other professionals, to explore the role of art in recovery from violence.
Halley Feiffer (Playwright) is a writer and actress. Full-length plays include I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard (Atlantic Theater Company, directed by Trip Cullman), How To Make Friends And Then Kill Them (Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, directed by Kip Fagan), Sidney and Laura, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City and Valerie Sweet. Her plays have been developed by Second Stage Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, LAByrinth Theater Company, Cape Cod Theatre Project, the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, and elsewhere. She is currently working on commissions from Manhattan Theatre Club, MTC / Sloan, Playwrights Horizsons and Jen Hoguet Productions. She co-wrote and starred in the 2013 film He’s Way More Famous Than You and the webseries What's Your Emergency, both directed by Michael Urie. She won the Theatre World Award for her performance in the Broadway revival of The House of Blue Leaves and was recently seen in the revival of Jon Robin Baitz’ The Substance of Fire at Second Stage, directed by Trip Cullman. She currently writes for the upcoming Starz series The One Percent.
Israel Horovitz has written over 70 plays, several of which have been translated into as many as 30 languages and performed worldwide. His play Line is now in its 39th year of continuous performance off-Broadway. He is Founding Artistic Director of Gloucester Stage Company, and of the New York Playwrights Lab. Horovitz teaches a bilingual screenwriting workshop with writers from la Fémis, France's national film school, and Columbia University's graduate film program. He is married to Gillian Adams-Horovitz, former British National Marathon Champion and Record holder, and former USA Track & Field (Masters) Marathon Champion. The Horovitz family divides its time among homes in Gloucester, Massachusetts, NYC’s Greenwich Village, and London’s Dulwich Village. Mr. Horovitz visits France, frequently, where he often directs French-language productions of his plays. He is the most-produced American playwright in French theatre history.
Neil LaBute’s works include: Bash: Latter-Day Plays (Douglas Fairbanks Theatre, Almeida Theatre), The Shape of Things (Almeida Theatre, Promenade Theatre), The Distance from Here (MCC Theatre, Almeida Theatre), The Mercy Seat (MCC Theatre, Almeida Theatre), Filthy Talk for Troubled Times (MCC Theatre), Fat Pig (MCC Theatre, Trafalgar Studios), Autobahn (MCC Theatre), Some Girl(s) (Gielgud Theatre, MCC Theatre), This is How it Goes (Donmar Warehouse, The Public Theatre), Land of the Dead/Helter Skelter (Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Bush Theatre), Wrecks (Everyman Palace Theatre, The Public Theatre, The Bush Theatre), In a Dark Dark House (MCC Theatre, Almeida Theatre), The Break of Noon (MCC Theatre, Geffen Playhouse), Reasons to be Pretty (MCC Theatre, Almeida Theatre), In a Forest, Dark and Deep (Vaudeville Theatre, Profiles Theatre), The Heart of the Matter (MCC Theatre),Woyzeck – adaptation (Schauspielhaus Zurich), Things We Said Today (Profiles Theatre, Sala Beckett), The Furies/The New Testament/Romance (59E59), The Great War (Ensemble Studio Theatre), Taming of the Shrew – additional scenes(Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), Short Ends (Open Fist Theatre), The Money Shot (MCC), Lovely Head (Spoleto Festival-Italy, Fringe Festival-Madrid, La Mama), In The Beginning (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Theatre Row), Miss Julie – adaptation (Geffen Playhouse), Reasons to be Happy (MCC Theatre), Over The River And Through the Woods (Planet Connections), Good Luck (In Farsi) (59E59), Pick One (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Young Vic), One Day Like This (American Academy of Dramatic Arts), and The Way We Get By (Second Stage).
Planet Connections Theatre Festivity is New York's premiere socially-conscious theatre, music and film festival. The entire festival is aligned to help artist shine a light on the issues facing our society and support the organizations working to make a difference. The 2015 Theatre Festivity will run from June 15-July 12 at the Paradise Factory (located at 64 East 4th Street between the Bowery and 2nd Avenue), and will also play host to special events at various locations in New York City’s East Village. The full lineup for the Festivity will be announced shortly. For more information on Planet Connections visit: www.planetconnections.org.