Author Topic: SHOWS: What's the most controversial show you've ever worked on?  (Read 7389 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

kiwitechgirl

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 200
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
I'm currently in rehearsals for a play which is going to cause more controversy than any other show I think I've ever worked on.  It's a (wonderful!) New Zealand play called Saving Grace - we open in a fortnight - and the entire theatre is bracing itself for the letters, e-mails and phone calls we're likely to receive.  We're producing it in our second space, which is programmed with more challenging groundbreaking works, and the audiences are aware of that, but I still think we're going to have offended punters. 

Essentially one character believes that he's Jesus Christ reborn (the play is very ambiguous and leaves the audience to make up their own mind about whether he actually is or not!), befriends an eighteen-year-old (mentally unstable and very disturbed) street kid, takes her in, convinces her he's JC (then goes to bed with her!) and persuades her to crucify him, onstage.  I cannot bring myself to watch her nailing him to the cross - and I've been there since day one and know how they've got to where they are and what they've been through to get there - and if I can't watch it, how many of the audience aren't going to be able to watch it?!

So what's the most controversial show you've worked on - and what did the public think?!

Edit added label to subject line-Rebbe
« Last Edit: Feb 26, 2010, 10:33 pm by Rebbe »

jaslada

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 17
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Community Theatre
Re: What's the most controversial show you've ever worked on?
« Reply #1 on: Feb 26, 2010, 10:15 am »
Love! Valour! Compassion! It was a community theater production in a 117 seat black box theater. The play's subject matter and the full frontal male nudity on occasion prompted audience members not to return after intermission.  The crew & I  kept a tally sheet of how many audience members left and what gender & age they were....it is a small theater & an interesting sociological exercise. We did have one funny incident. This theater group had a children's show with Saturday morning performances before our Saturday evening shows. The police arrived right before the childrens' show was about to start one Saturday morning to investigate a complaint of lewd & lacivious behaviour.  It had been made by an audience member in attendence at the evening performance the previous night. Interestingly- that was the one Friday evening we had no one leave at intermission.

missliz

  • Superstar!
  • *****
  • Posts: 569
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
    • Personal Site
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's the most controversial show you've ever worked on?
« Reply #2 on: Feb 26, 2010, 10:45 am »
Two come to mind. Once, I did Cabaret in a very small, rather conservative town. We'd often get walkouts, especially during "Two Ladies."

Another controversial show, though in a different way, was Lizzie Borden. She was acquitted, but our show (very blatantly) took the position that she did it. Evidently, there are LOTS of hardcore Lizzie fans, and many were VERY upset that we let her take the blame! Our writers and producers would get letters and emails about it. It was sort of a surprise for all of us.
I personally would like to bring a tortoise onto the stage, turn it into a racehorse, then into a hat, a song, a dragon and a fountain of water. One can dare anything in the theatre and it is the place where one dares the least. -Ionesco

Thespi620

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 99
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's the most controversial show you've ever worked on?
« Reply #3 on: Feb 26, 2010, 11:37 am »
When I did Pillowman last year, we expected there to be a lot of controversy around the show, but the campus community seemed to really support the work we were doing-on the whole. There were a few who questioned our need to do a show of that ilk, and a few people who were very close to cast & crew members refused to see the show.

I did work on Altar Boyz a few summers ago, and we had a walkout there.  Right after confession sessions an elderly couple walked out with their grandkids. I was FOH that night and the HM and I stood there with the producer trying to understand why they walked out--apparently the show was blasphemous and teaching children that premarital sex was okay.  She didn't seem to get the satire part of the show, and we all wished they had stayed for You Make Me Wanna Wait. Audience members are funny sometimes.
[The SM is] a very gifted, slightly eccentric master mechanic [keeping] a cantankerous, highly complex machine running at top efficiency by talking to it, soothing it, & lovingly fixing whatever is broken. 
-J. Michael Gillette

Scott

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 252
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: What's the most controversial show you've ever worked on?
« Reply #4 on: Feb 26, 2010, 12:21 pm »
Not what I would have thought would have been the most controversial play I've ever worked on: but when I was west touring "Freedom Train" with Theatrework/USA (first time that property was brought west, I believe) -- we received a bomb threat out in  California.

You wouldn't think Harriet Tubman and emancipation would be still controversial...but there you go.


Aerial

  • SM Expert
  • ****
  • Posts: 199
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SMA
  • Current Gig: The Winter's Tale, Gamm Theatre
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's the most controversial show you've ever worked on?
« Reply #5 on: Feb 26, 2010, 05:48 pm »
I did a new one woman show called You're Eating God a few summers ago.  It was a hilarious show, set in the 50's, with a family hunkered down in the bomb shelter because the dad believes the Reds are coming.  At one point, the dad, consumed by hunger started to ravenously eat the communion wafers that the family had stored for Sundays (hence the title). 

We got several nasty letters about that scene, as well as a harshly worded letter to the editor of the local paper from the Catholic diocese.  That letter served to sell out the remainder of our run.

loebtmc

  • Forum Moderators
  • *****
  • Posts: 1567
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA, SAG, AFTRA, SMA
  • Current Gig: Caroling, caroling now we go — and looking for my next gig!
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's the most controversial show you've ever worked on?
« Reply #6 on: Feb 26, 2010, 06:38 pm »
wow, I've done some really controversial pieces - and some (like Orphans) that warn the audience and then still they are surprised when they see the offensive language, violence, drugs/booze etc

Maribeth

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 1016
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: What's the most controversial show you've ever worked on?
« Reply #7 on: Feb 26, 2010, 06:44 pm »
I did a production of a play about Israeli settlers in the Gaza strip, produced by a theatre company at a Jewish Community Center- it provoked a lot of controversy within the audience base of the theatre. We had a lot of talkbacks for the production, and there were usually at least a few people in the audience who were really upset by the show, and the theatre got some really horrible letters about it. One of the characters in the show was a rabbi who committed suicide, and the actor who played that character was approached by a patron (not at the theatre) who was really angry about the portrayal.

It was a really thought-provoking play, and the production was well-attended.

BlantonRK

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 52
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Current Gig: Glimmerglass Opera
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's the most controversial show you've ever worked on?
« Reply #8 on: Feb 26, 2010, 08:26 pm »
In college (a small town in Kentucky) Agnes of God sparked a lot of controversy around the live birth on stage. The administration at this school also forbade us from having nudity in Equus.

dallas10086

  • Superstar!
  • *****
  • Posts: 562
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Current Gig: Freelance PSM; currently Charlotte Squawks 12
  • Experience: Professional
Re: What's the most controversial show you've ever worked on?
« Reply #9 on: Feb 26, 2010, 09:48 pm »
My first show in college-- Angels in America, Perestroika and Millenium Approaches. We were told from the get-go that several groups in Cincinnati were speaking openly of boycotting the production, especially after learning about the gay sex scene; come opening night however, there wasn't a single picket line to be seen and each night was sold out. One man actually paid for a preview night for a very large group of personal friends and colleagues. I'm sure it was a hefty price tag!

A rather surprising controversy happened during a run of Mr. Marmalade. Through the title character throwing around porn and dildos, snorting crack, smoking, and feeling up the 30-something actress playing a 5 year old, the controversy came when, in an effort to keep Mr. Marmalade from leaving her, the girl kills their baby, covered in it's blood. This all happens in her imagination, so it's quickly revealed that it's "just ketchup." But for some reason this moment really stuck in the audiences' mind. I heard several people say, "It was really, really good...until she killed the baby. Then it went too far." One of my friends who saw it said repeatedly, "It still haunts me!"

DanaGalSM

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 6
    • View Profile
  • Experience: College/Graduate
Well, at Arizona State University we tend to do plenty of controversial shows. In the past 3 1/2 years, I've only worked 4 productions that did NOT involve full or partial nudity, simulated sex, rape, drugs, pedophilia, varying politics, murder, and varying religious beliefs. Though we've had a decent amount of walk-outs, our audiences are surprisingly open minded.


ddsherrer

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 60
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: SMA
  • Experience: Professional
I know this is terribly long but when I tried to cut it down it didn't make sense.  I did "The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)" several years ago and this is a letter from a concern citizen.  We offered him complimentary tickets to the show, but he declined.  As the most conservative person working on this production at the time, I thought it was wonderful and I choose to believe that God has a sense of humor.

Quote
To all,

I do not want you to get the wrong impression from my email message below.
In looking for information about good friends of ours from Slidell, whom we
have not heard from since Hurricane Katrina hit, I ran across the following
review in the Slidell Sentry. This article caught my eye.  Notice the dates
of the performances.

http://www.slidellsentry.com/articles/2005/09/02/news/news08.txt

I am a born again Christian.  After I read this article, my heart leapt into
my throat.  I did more research to determine the precise path of the eye of
Hurricane Katrina, and I found that the eye passed directly over Slidell on
the day after the Sunday scheduled performance 8/28/2005 of this play.
Additionally, I found that another theatre in New Orleans had just completed
a string of performances of this play and as you know, New Orleans has been
almost completely flooded.

After searching for other companies planning performances of this play, I
found that, as advertised on your web site, your company is planning to do
this show in November.  I felt an incredible sense of urgency, that I needed
to warn you not to perform this show, because of the disasters in Slidell
and New Orleans.  God simply does not allow His name and His Holy Word to be
mocked, and I have a very real sense of foreboding concerning your upcoming
performances.  I hope and pray that you will reconsider performing this
show.

I sincerely ask each of you, to repent of your sins and to accept Jesus
Christ into your heart as your personal Saviour.  Surrender your will to
Him, do not put it off!  The Book of Revelation in the Bible is clear that
there is very little time left for these decisions.  There is no event left
to happen before He reclaims His Church.  Become a part of it.  I am praying
earnestly for each of you.

If any of you would like to further discuss this, please call me
immediately.

My home number in North Carolina is:
(919) 552-XXX
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Ted W.
« Last Edit: Feb 27, 2010, 09:11 pm by PSMKay »
If all the world's a stage, where's my stage manager?

BlantonRK

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 52
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Current Gig: Glimmerglass Opera
  • Experience: Professional
Wow. I've heard of bomb threats, but this God-will-not-be-mocked...  Wow!

cprted

  • Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 83
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
Wow, some people have too much time on their hands.

We recently presented a show called "The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan" by the Old Trout Puppet Workshop of Calgary, Alberta.  I have no idea how this person got the email addresses of the technical staff, but we got emails condemning filth we were spreading with tax payer dollars and how she regrets voting for the performing arts centre referendum 10 years ago and we should all be ashamed of ourselves, etc etc etc.

 :o

klcurrie

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 39
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
in the early 1990s worked on a production of Brad Fraser's POOR SUPERMAN in Cincinnati.  The show features a married man having a homosexual affair and there were many controversial scenes and both male and female nudity.  All at a time when the laws in Cincinnati were very strict about such things.  We had a "bail out" plan and a lawyer on call for every performance.  the show extended twice, tied up all phone lines in the theater for the entire run, sold out every night, and we caught people more than once with lipstick cameras trying to get things on film. 

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
3 Replies
3012 Views
Last post Oct 07, 2007, 04:42 am
by theater_is_life
5 Replies
2967 Views
Last post Apr 03, 2009, 11:38 am
by loebtmc
0 Replies
1172 Views
Last post Jun 07, 2019, 12:09 pm
by CARo

riotous