CMU School of Drama

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Show must go on: Local theater company's 'blasphemous' twist on Bible story draws ire

11alive.com: Throughout the centuries it has existed, the Bible has been read by millions of people across the globe, translated into thousands of languages and interpreted in several different ways.

But there’s one modern interpretation of one of the Bible’s oldest stories that has thousands of people fired up.

A new stage play from the Out Front Theater company in Atlanta called The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told is set to open later this week. The story – written by playwright Paul Rudnick in 1998 – is a retelling of the Old Testament through the eyes of gay couples “Jane and Mabel and "Adam and Steve," not "Adam and Eve."

12 comments:

Julian Goldman said...

I think the thing I find interesting about this article is the idea that people feel like a show should get canceled just because they disagree with the content. My initial reaction to this is, well then you don’t have to go. At the same time, I’m aware that there could be shows where I would consider the content problematic enough that I would feel like that show shouldn’t be performed, for example, anything involving blackface. In my world view, this makes sense because the types of content I would feel the need to protest would be things that I think are hurting society as a whole, but these people protesting this show feel the same way, they just operate under an entirely different understanding of what is problematic for society as a whole. I still think what they are doing is absurd, but I find thinking about it from their perspective interesting.

Simone Schneeberg said...

I see the point - to show that identity doesn't matter, to show that the bible is about love, to look at deeper issues and meanings (like relationship and faith) - but I think the point could be made in a way that is less likely to aggravate a large group of people. While I also think it is absurd to block the presentation of things you disagree with, I also think that presenting things that you know will explicitly agitate is also ridiculous. If you want to present and tackle these larger ideas and issues, I believe it would be smarter to do it in ways that could get more people of all sides of the issue into the room. It is not possible to present controversial issues and big, deep ideas without stirring the pot a little bit, without making some people mad. However, I think people should be more careful about how they do it to agitate fewer people and bring more into the conversation.

Alexa James-Cardenas said...

It was for reasons like this that I left my Church back home. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before, I’m a Christian myself. Some people may say that I’m not because I don’t follow or really believe in (but my faith in) most of the bible, and for some as long as I believe in God that is all that matters. It is thing between a lot of Christian and their contempt of the LGBTQ+ community that makes me just want to scream at my fellow believers. And really it their lack of effort to try to understand and quick-trigger condemnation which bothers me (and also their nosiness of other people’s lives to the point that it suddenly effects their life that another chooses a non-cis “life style”. ALSO in their rage and maliciousness they forget the simple principals of Christianity: Love and kindness! Mark 12:31 “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Romans 13:10 “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good”. ETC. By sending a petition to shut down the play, 50,000 are technically committing a sin… but oh no, those people, who you don’t know and probable of no effecting relation to, are the one who are committing sins for what show a different side of LOVE???? I’m glad they pushed on to put on the show, because it is their commitment to love is most holy.

David Kelley said...

What I find to be interesting about this article is the fact that most likely many of those that are calling for the show to be cancelled are the same people who would tell you if they say something offensive you should just not go. The idea that anything is at all above reproach is in my mind ludicrous. Christ the Bible has an entire short of doubting Thomas where his faith was made stronger from the notion of question his faith. It does not seem like the show is attempting to act maliciously towards religion and faith but rather wants to expand the field of what we think about when looking at this ideas. Another fact that I find completely abhorrent is the idea that if something does not agree with your religion of peace's world view than you need to lash out violently. It is a disconnect between action and message that leads to dangerous mind sets and also technically against what many would say are the tenants of the faith.

Emily Lawrence said...

Among people in the freshman design and production class, it is well known that I am Christian, and I am very happy that this article was shared. There have been many stereotypes of Christians and that they frown upon gay marriage and those who identify with the LGBTQ+ community, but this article pointed out what a lot of Christians I know believe. While there are many people who do not agree with these types of shows, there are also many people who do support them who still follow this religion. My favorite thing said in this article was that this production shows that the Bible is truly about love and not about what/who you are as a person. I do not like that people were shutting down the show simply because it went against what they believed. There are many people who interpret the Bible in many different ways, so shutting down a show because it is not how you interpret it is not something that should be celebrated. I love this show and what it has done, showing the true meaning of the religion and showing that acceptance is key.

nick waddington said...

I think this article was really useful and relevant as the clashing of the religious and LGBTQ+ communities is an ever too often occurrence and is something we hear about daily if not weekly. I certainly do not believe that all christians hate the LGBTQ+ community, and i know many people who identify with both communities. I come from a family that is predominantly religious, however my family is a staunch supporter of LGBTQ rights, and has always impressed upon me that it is not important who did what, but rather the moral implications and lessons to be learned about acceptance and tolerance in the face of those who would take action against your way of living. I fully support shows like these, because i think they give an incredible opportunity to bridge gaps between such opposing communities. this being said, it saddens me to see members of the religious community propagating hate and misrepresenting many of the people in their community.

John Yoerger said...

Well this seems like a fun show! But I will say that I think that anything that will offend anyone (but especially religious groups) is particularly enjoyable. I am not surprised that there is a church group up in arms about this but I'm pretty sure this LGBT rendition of the bible is more of a joke than a serious interpretation of biblical text. Westborough Baptist Church protested at my High School's graduation because we were an art school and had a few openly gay students (and this is, of course, abominable). So I understand church groups getting riled up over nothing. I find it especially annoying because it is as if this is infringing on them from across the border of other states. How is someone doing something in Georgia triggering someone from Alaska? Calm down people. Free speech is important but it doesn't mean you need to publicly spread your bullshit. One can only hope.

Ali Whyte said...

Hats off to this company for sticking with this show. I think things like this are exactly what theatre is about: taking long established norms and questioning and analysing them in a new way. I think this is very similar to a lot of the feedback from many people when Book of Mormon first came out, and look where that is now. I think using theatre a way to push social boundaries and examine long held traditions is an excellent way to further society as a whole, As with any controversial thing, there are the angry people that will try to shut it down, but I think some of these comments have gone too far. I am all for people expressing their views, even if they are negative, but doing so in a productive way. Some of those comments were personal attacks on people not aimed to really solve anything, and more instead to offend and instigate.

Helena Hewitt said...

As anyone who has touched on the subject will know, I am the perfect audience for a show like this: I am proudly queer and I am firmly agnostic. I just think there are many more interesting and important issues to spend your time and energy on than whether or not there is a greater power controlling all our lives. While I do not strictly think the possibility of a higher power is impossible, I am a humanist to the core. I don’t believe in Him (or Her), I believe in Us, in the awe-inspiring and breathtaking power and grace of human beings. However, I found it interesting that this article talks about this play turning the Bible’s stories on its head, I actually think this play might be more in line with the values of the Bible than some Christians might like to think. My father is a religious man, and he gave me a bible for Christmas one year, not so that I would feel pressured into his faith, but he thought it is best to be informed about what you disagree with rather than simply disagreeing with something on principle. But from what I’ve learned from him and from my (admittedly limited) reading is that the core message of the Bible is radical love and acceptance. I would have assumed that the anti-gay passages of the Bible would have been left behind with other relics of the past such as, I don’t know, the stuff about selling your daughter into slavery? Either way, I admire this company for continuing on with their work in the light of this harsh criticism.

Emma Reichard said...

So let me get this straight, the blasphemy in this production is the gays right? Like that’s the only thing? If they took out the gays then no one would be complaining? Because that’s the vibe I’m getting from the outraged groups. It’s not about portraying biblical stories on stage or re-interpreting them (or else this group would be protesting every community theatre’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar and they aren’t). And the only ‘blasphemy’ mentioned in any of the complaints is the inclusion of homosexuality. There’s no mention of being ‘disrespectful’ to the religion in any other way. So what this really sounds like to me is a group of Christians trying really really hard to exclude homosexuals from finding faith. These groups aren’t really saying the production is blasphemy, they’re saying homosexuals are blasphemy. Which is just bigoted and hateful. Let they gays see themselves in their faith. Isn’t that the whole damn point of organized religion?

Lauren Miller said...

Honestly – this is the show I needed as a child. I was raised in a very conservative environment on the stories of the Old Testament and I always felt so displaced from them and that I did not belong in the Christian narrative. I am overjoyed to see this production go up and I hope that it beings happiness to those lucky enough to witness it. I am also sad that people are protesting this show. I suppose it is to be expected, considering that productions of Godspell, Children of Eden, and Jesus Christ Superstar have all faced down angry protesters before, but I always hold out hope that others will come to find delight in the retelling of old stories in a new light. Plays like this one are what brought me back to the church after being thoroughly disillusioned with the teachings. On a side note – Christians have, throughout history, oppressed people of other religions and cause physical harm to them. Even now, we are the most common faith in the United States and a lot of the country’s laws are created by Christians and too many people found their political opinion on religious beliefs so I really don’t think that the Christian community has a right to cry “oppression” when we are historically the oppressors and are currently the majority in this country. Also, the text of the Bible can be interpreted in a large variety of ways and it is a very personal topic that no one can agree on. I love the idea of this show and I hope it does well.

Sarah Boyle said...

Why is it that homophobic people say “is a homosexual” instead of “is homosexual”? It’s like they are trying to add another word to keep the word homosexual as far away from them as possible. Bible stories are fair game. While there are some takes on religious adaptations that I would probably find offensive, changing a character sexuality is not an insult. I remember going to see Book of Mormon a while back. There were ads in the program with smiling Mormons, and phrases like “you’ve seen the play, now read the book!” I really resected that (at least some) members of the Mormon community could laugh at the show and were comfortable enough to be associated with it in that way. The Bible has been retold so many ways, I don’t see anything wrong with this one. And I feel terrible about the emotional stress that their actions caused the creator of a local theater piece.

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