Author Topic: SHOWS: What's the most controversial show you've ever worked on?  (Read 7018 times)

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On_Headset

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To cheat a little, on one occasion back in high school one of the vice-principals had us stop a show during the intermission because a scene involving a gay rape was just too much.

In retrospect, it probably was way over the line. The gimmick for the scene was that the two men were raping each other: as they rolled across the stage, the one on top would always be the rapist and vice-versa, complete with punching and choking and language. It made an awful lot of sense in the context of the play (one of the men was a married, closeted jock who loathed this part of himself; another was a self-important prick who detested his inability to control his emotions when it came to sexual attraction), but yikes, y'know? We're talking 15-year-olds here, and this wasn't even the most controversial scene.

Those of us in the drama club were utterly sold on how Profound And Important this play was, but re-reading the script now I can see why the only place this guy (the faculty advisor) could get his shows produced were high school gymnasiums.

Post Merge: Feb 28, 2010, 11:23 pm
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
Erotic puppetry? People are offended by erotic puppetry?
« Last Edit: Feb 28, 2010, 11:23 pm by On_Headset »

loebtmc

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Erotic puppetry? People are offended by erotic puppetry?

Erotic puppetry indeed! Didn't you hear abt the silly hoo-haw with the Ave Q ads and the exposure of entirely too much muppet cleavage in Colorado Spings? (and amusingly, Lucy the Slut's response on Broadway.com) http://www.broadway.com/shows/avenue-q-off-bway/buzz/avenue-qs-lucy-slut-responds-colorado-ad-controversy/?

lesliedcole

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I am currently stage managing Equus.  This past fall was The Full Monty.  I didn't hear of any controversy surrounding TFM, but I have a feeling we may get some for Equus.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens...

DeeCap

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I was production assistant for Corpus Christi when it first premiered in NYC.
Bomb threats, bomb sniffing dogs, two forms of ID's became the norm.

Our favorite protester was a guy walking up and down the entrance door with a large cross. His cross had a wheel attached to the bottom, making it easier to "drag" the cross. I don't think Jesus had a wheel to help him.

Cedes

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It wasn't a show I personally worked on, but a show called The Complete Female Stage Beauty sparked a lot of controversy because of the blatant homosexual sex on stage. That and complete female nudity.  I ushered for it a few times, and had more than our share of walkouts.

MarcosPMA

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I was backstage crew for a production of Bad Boy Nietzsche and while it wasn't extremely controversial, it was as one audience member said after our last show, "Bizarre!"  It was the kind of show that would definitely not be allowed to do in high schools in Texas and it had to be okayed by the director of the school of theatre during final dress for it to be shown to the public.
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avkid

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Were doing Lysistrata right now, which depending on the audience could be very interesting.
Philip LaDue
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IATSE Local #21 Newark, NJ

kallulah

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We did Antigone....

set in Texas....

Clydemnestra's husband, Euripedes was essentially George W. Bush...

I had a hard time watching this show, for two weeks.

In terms of being controversial; it was controversial to theatrical tastes.
turtle

BeccaTheSM

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I just finished up working on The Rocky Horror Show. We took our production to the level of an ultimate rock show. The phantoms (5 girls, 3 boys) were constantly paired, leaving a female couple at all times. Beyond that, the direction was that the aliens experienced the world through sex, so the phantoms were continuously touching each other, often incredibly suggestively. For 20 minutes before curtain, they were released into the house to mingle, explore, and rock out.

To give a basic idea, the opening number (Science Fiction, Double Feature) was performed by our usherette in sequin shorts, a tuxedo jacket, suspenders and pasties. The jacket came off half way through the number. (This was the toned-down version. The director originally wanted her entirely topless with suspenders.)

The show was incredibly sexual, with blatant sexual acts onstage beyond those called for in the script. The local crowds (and specifically the older season ticket-holders) were not prepared for the madness which was our show.

The director asked me to count the number of walk-outs during each performance. The most startling was the family who left after the first number.
Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos. - Stephen Sondheim

Risa Comical

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For a high school competition last year, our troupe did a horror play called Dark North. Even though we took almost all the cursing, alcohol, and sex out of the show, one of the main parts of the plot is really violent. Everyone loved it! Except for the judges, who felt it was to advanced for highschool students, and made up notes (such as they felt the play was about a milk jug, because we moved it 3 times in a 45 minute segment, and that it wasn't scary to one judge, because she grew up in a funeral home) just to drop down our score so we couldn't compete at the state level. Apparently if you don't do happy peppy shows in highschool, you're not doing it right...oh well.
It all started with a single question... " Hey, do you wanna stage manage JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT!?" Best decision in my life so far...

Rebbe

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Antebellum by Robert O’Hara.  This play has it all; transgendered issues, anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, Nazis, southern belles, full male nudity by two characters, infidelity, classism, financial woes, pretty much something to offend everyone.  The producing theater is known for controversial plays, so usually the audience comes in braced for something shocking, and no one gets bent out of shape by negative comments.  Despite all the “isms” it touched on, the play was a love story at its core, and it was easy to get wrapped up in the characters at times and forget about their unique circumstances.
"...allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster."  (Philip Henslowe, Shakespeare In Love)

BalletPSM

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Okay - I know this is an old thread - and I haven't posted on this in FOREVER, but something drew me back to it today for some reason and I am thrilled to find this topic. 

I just presented a paper at a symposium in New York about working on shows that challenge your personal beliefs, and how do you as a stage manager (the person responsible for the maintenance of the artistic integrity) work on a show in this capacity when it conflicts with your faith.  It's a slightly different idea than just working on controversial projects, but similar.  I might start a new thread to deal with it.

That said, the most controversial show I have worked on was an original piece called "Seven Passages:  The Stories of Gay Christians."  We took over 100 interviews of people who are gay and Christian and devised the material into a play, structured around the seven passages in the Bible that are traditionally used to say homosexuality is wrong.  We had stories from whole gamut, from very conservative people who follow church policy in spite of being gay, to people who have left the church because of cruel treatment...everything...you name it, we had some form of it.  The piece was remarkable in that we didn't offer a bias or an "answer."  It was - here are people's lives, and people's stories, and you can't deny them those stories.

My validation that it was a good play came when my dad, who has very conservative leanings, found me after the show with tears in his eyes and told me he was so proud of me for working on this play and that we had done an amazing job of being real, and honest, and true and that it would change people's lives. 

It was a really interesting show to call for various reasons - but that's also another topic.  =)  That said - I hope to be on these boards on a more regular basis once again!
Stage managing is getting to do everything your mom told you not to do - read in the dark, sit too close to the TV, and play with the light switches!

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