Last Friday, NCAC and a number of other organizations devoted to free speech considerations in education, drama, and literature sent a letter to the South Williamsport Area School District calling on them to reverse their cancellation of Monty Python's Spamalot, which had been called off due to "homosexual themes." As we sent out the letter, we learned that Dawn Burch, [...]
UPDATE: We've just heard that, in apparent retaliation for speaking about the cancellation of the play, drama teacher Dawn Burch, has been just fired. Stay tuned for action alert and letter to the school board. In a letter sent to the South Williamsport Area School District today, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), the American Booksellers Foundation For Free Expression, the [...]
A production of Spamalot planned for 2015 has recently been cancelled by the South Williamsport High School in Pennsylvania. Why? Made public in August as the result of Right-to-Know requests, internal emails sent by the school principal, Jesse Smith, clearly demonstrate that the homosexual themes of the play prompted the cancellation. The principal suggested in the communications that the show [...]
Tomorrow is opening night for Trumbull High School students and for a performance of the musical Rent that almost wasn't.
NCAC participating organizations the Dramatists Guild and the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund have sent a letter (PDF embed below) to Theater J in Washington DC in support of the venue's staging of Motti Lerner's The Admission. A group called Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art has waged a smear campaign to vilify the play as anti-Israel. The reason we dramatists feel so strongly about this [...]
In a censorship story that feels dredged from a mid-century time capsule, a High School in Utah will allow the musical All Shook Up to be performed, but has removed a "questionable song." It's unclear what song has been removed from the play, which is in fact a rewriting of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. About that: evidently in addition to the [...]
SummerStage will not be performing their "diabolical" play at Lapham Peak State Park in Wisconsin as previously scheduled, as a right-wing radio host put the fear of God in The Department of Natural Resources. The Progressive reported the DNR pulled "The Bible: Complete Word of God, Abridged" after evangelical clergyman Vic Eliason dedicated an hour-long radio rant calling for them to [...]
Copyright claims and creative freedom clash once again in the case of 3C, a recent play by David Adjmi. The play is a parody of the 1970s sitcom Three’s Company, and, as such, should constitute fair use. Nevertheless, the owners of Three's Company sent Adjmi a letter claiming copyright infringement and demanding that Adjmi cease further performances of the play anywhere.
The Richland, PA School District canceled a high school student production of Kismet, a 1953 musical made along the lines of stories from the Arabian Nights. The musical was planned to open in February. The reason: the proximity of the town to the 9/11 attacks: "Flight 93 flew right over our heads." A fact which apparently has made local citizens [...]
NCAC participating organization The Dramatists Guild protests the cancellation of a community theater production of The Rocky Horror Show in Carrollton Georgia.
A Seattle billboard removed by Clear Channel Outdoor It is appalling that the trustees of CUNY voted not to bestow an honorary degree on Tony Kushner, the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, because a trustee disagreed with his views on Israel. Denying him this honor solely because of his political views violates core First Amendment principles and is [...]
Overruling a decision by the schools' superintendent, the Waterbury, Conn Board of Education allowed a high-school production of August Wilson's play, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, to go on. Superintendent David L. Snead had opposed the production, saying that the school and educators should not be staging a play that might encourage use of the word "nigger." The play will [...]
Censorship continues full front attacks on all the arts. Two weeks into 2011, we've already seen censorship of David Wojnarowicz at the National Portrait Gallery; a new edition of Mark Twain's Huckelberry Finn hit the bookstores, without the N-word; the arrest of Belarus theater director Nikolai Khalezin of Belarus Free Theatre and now the Waterbury Connecticut school district is attempting [...]
Victory: the Flagler Palm Coast High School production of Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD will be staged in the auditorium on February 24, 25, and 26 (two shows). It will be staged AS WRITTEN! The production was canceled last month by the school's principal, who was concerned about the use of the word "nigger" by characters in the play.
We write to express concern about the cancellation of the Flagler Palm Coast High School production of a To Kill a Mockingbird and to urge you to review that decision and allow students to go ahead with the production.
A Florida high school production of a play based on Harper Lee’s 1960 Pulitzer prize-winning novel about racial conflict, To Kill a Mockingbird, has been cancelled. At the center of the controversy that prompted the cancellation was the historically necessary use of the word “nigger”. The reason “nigger” is a word that carries such painful weight, of course, is due [...]
The Free Speech Leadership Council gathered on June 23, 2010 for “Playwrights on Censorship: A Conversation with Edward Albee, David Henry Hwang, Terrence McNally, and Adam Rapp.” It was perhaps the first time ever these luminous playwrights conversed in the same room! Time Out New York’s Theater Editor David Cote moderated the discussion and Jane Friedman, Chair of the Council, [...]
The Supreme Court of the United States has declined to hear Curious Theatre Company v. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, meaning that the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling that smoking can be banned from a stage stands. This means that issues could arise in any state where there is a catch-all smoking ban in public areas, without an exemption [...]
The cancellation of Terrence McNally’s play Corpus Christi by Tarleton State University, under pressure from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and others, is an affront to academic freedom and First Amendment principles of free speech. The play was denounced by Tarleton’s president, Dominic Dottavio, who called it “crude and irreverent.” Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst opined that [...]
The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) issues the following statement opposing Tarleton State University’s recent cancellation of Terrence McNally’s play Corpus Christi:
Robert Frost Elementary in Washington State canceled the touring theatre-troupe Studio East's production of the Emperor's New Clothes due to fears that students would imitate the bad behavior of some of the characters.
This week, in a decision that is likely to limit what theaters decide to produce, Colorado's Supreme Court upheld the state's ban on theatrical smoking. The 2006 Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking inside public buildings. This is something we welcome! However, contrary to the situation in other states where smoking on stage is exempt, Colorado performers are banned [...]
Great week for high school theatre! RENT and the Laramie project are two of the most challenged plays in high schools around the country, but both shows will go on thanks to the Green Valley High School administration and Clark County's District Court in Henderson, NV despite parents who objected to the plays' "mature content". In an attempt to stop [...]
In the last two decades direct censorship of theater has waned. Arrests of actors and theater employees involved in allegedly “obscene” productions such as May West’s plays in the 1920s and Richard Schechner’s Dionysus in 69 or Kenneth Tynan’s Oh! Calcutta! in the 1960s and 70s are, for the most part, a distant memory. Yet, on the high school stage [...]
NCAC urges Superintendent to reverse his decision to ban student play On February 25, school board members in La Grande, OR voted to uphold Superintendent Larry Glaze’s decision to censor a student production of Steve Martin’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile”, ignoring spirited and articulate appeals from the High School principal and drama teacher. It was yet another disturbing [...]
NCAC has been following the case of Picasso at the Lapin Agile in La Grande Oregon for the past month or so. After receiving a call from a concerned parent, we wrote a letter to the Superintendent explaining how and why his decision to cancel the Steve Martin play was, well, wrong. Unfortunately, a little saber rattling from New York [...]
Good news: Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a go in Eastern Oregon. As a student weighed in the comments section: Hey just wanted to thank you for taking the time to mention our struggle here in Good Ol’ Eastern Oregon. As an update, a student group at Eastern Oregon University has pledged to fund a production of our play [...]
In December we covered the depressing situation at Rowlett High School where a teacher pulled a performance of “RENT: School Edition” after controversy about the play’s content. “RENT: School Edition” is a “modified” version of Jonathan Larson’s Tony Award winning musical about “bohemian” life in New York. The play explores the lives of artists struggling to live out a romantic [...]
Listening to: La Vie Boheme On December 12, the Dallas Morning News reported that Rowlett High School had canceled a production of the musical Rent after protest from some parents in the community. According to the article, the school’s theatre director made the decision in the interest of the students involved: “In light of everything that has happened, I need [...]
Rowlett High School (TX) has canceled a scheduled production the musical, RENT: School Edition, after controversy arose over the play's content. the Dallas Morning News reports: After weeks of community debate and a packed school board meeting, the school's theater director canceled the upcoming performances of Rent: School Edition. ''In light of everything that has happened, I need to think [...]
Artistic director of California Musical Theatre, Scott Eckern, resigned Monday after his donation towards Proposition 8 – which will overturn gay marriage in California – was disclosed. Following the discovery of his $1000 contribution, many in the theatre community began calling for a boycott of Eckern and the theatre. Despite an apology from Eckern, pressure continued and he ultimately resigned [...]
Blanche DuBois, the fragile, self-deluding southern belle in Tennessee Williams’s 1947 play, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” is one of the great tragic characters in American literature. But who owns Blanche, and can the holder of the copyright in “Streetcar” stop a creative artist from impersonating her, as the author and performer Mark Sam Rosenthal does in his recent performance piece, [...]
New York Theater Workshop's suppression of a production about Rachel Corrie is the essence of self- censorship. It is also a betrayal of the theater's mission to "explore perspectives on our collective history and responses to the events and institutions that shape our lives."
"I know first-hand the devastating effects of censorship, so I wholeheartedly support Terrence McNally's right to speak without being subjected to threats and intimidation. Anyone who thinks his views are offensive has the right to say so - but they don't have the right to silence his voice." - Judy Blume, best-selling author "Political and economic censorship have the [...]