Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Absentee blogger returns

My only excuse for the long absence is that I was directing a play, which has now opened. Also, that I haven't been quite as motivated to blog since it's easier to just post one-liners on Facebook and Twitter.
At last, though, an issue has arisen that certainly got my attention and made me want to comment: the protest campaign against The Chance Theater for its upcoming production of "Jerry Springer: The Opera," a hit musical from London that also has played in New York.
I saw the London production--in fact, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones were sitting right behind us!
There is a Catholic organization that has sent over 1500 emails to the Chance Theater today to protest what they claim is a blasphemous show. Well, they might as well protest the Jerry Springer show on TV as well, since this is a relatively faithful (though satirical) facsimile of the daily melees representing the worst excesses of American life. And, like the creators of the satirical animated show South Park, "Jerry Springer: The Opera" is an "equal opportunity offender," taking aim at just about everyone and everything.
Satire isn't everyone's cup of tea, and let's face it, some people don't have a sense of humor about their own political or religious beliefs.
In one of my earliest years at the Laguna Playhouse, I produced the classic play "An Enemy of the People" by Henrik Ibsen. This was at a time when Laguna Beach environmentalists were fighting the development of the 73 Toll Road. The play is about a doctor who discovers that the spa waters in his town are severely polluted & orders it to be shut. His brother, the Mayor, refuses to do so because it's the town's primary driver of the local economy. Townspeople storm the doctor's house & declare him an enemy of the people. He is bullheaded & refuses to leave or to rescind his order.
Well, our play managed to offend both the environmentalists--who did not like the critical portrait of the stubborn doctor in this play--AND the development community--The Mission Viejo Company withdrew its support for the Laguna Playhouse because of the play.
So, kudos to The Chance Theater for taking on a controversial play. The protesters, however, are probably doing a big favor to the theatre, which is getting far more attention for it as a result of their efforts.

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