"Fabulous" story causes red state controversy
by Robin Dorner
Editor in Chief
After pre-selling more than 100 tickets for The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Oklahoma City Theatre Company (OKCTC) artistic director Rachel Irick said, “I believe this is a play Oklahoma City wants to see.”
But along came the controversy. Oh, dear… a gay themed Christmas story in a red state. Never could any of the company have dreamed this ‘fabulous’ story could have caused such a firestorm surrounding the production.
However, ticket sales to this degree are unprecedented for this small company for a show a month and a half away, commented Irick.
The firestorm began when Representative Dan Fisher (Republican – Yukon, OK) attempted to block the show from being presented on stage in Oklahoma City, calling it “pornographic.” As a result, the company lost their grant funding from the Oklahoma Arts Council for this show – to the tune of $5,000.
But then there’s the First Amendment.
“I think the free speech will protect us on this one. I just can’t figure out why they can’t just say, ‘It’s not my thing so I just won’t go to the show,’” exclaimed the artistic director. “This is our 15th anniversary season, so we’ve been around for a while. And we’re not going anywhere.”
“To date, the company has not been contacted to cancel the show. Not by the city, the Civic Center - no one. In fact, the Civic Center has made it clear that they do not censor shows and they will be the host location for the play.
“We haven’t changed a single thing. In fact we have already started rehearsing,” Irick continues. “This is not about a sincere effort to censor us. This is about galvanizing the right-wing to say, ‘Look, we are protecting you.’”
But Irick said not a single patron, subscriber or anyone has contacted the company requesting they not run the show.
“Our 2013-2014 theatre season is rich with diversity. In fact, this is the most diverse season we have had. It’s what I have wanted for our company since I took the reins,” adds Irick. “I just didn’t think it would cause this much of a stir. We need to build our diverse audience and offer a different Christmas story.”
“I’m shocked by the comments. Clearly they haven’t read the play,” said Kory Kight-Pagala, Director of the OCTC production. “I think Adam is the only character whose name is also in the Bible. They are imagining a lot about our theatre company. It’s not an attack on us necessarily. If they hadn’t thrown the first stone, there wouldn’t even be an issue.”
In an interview with NewsOK’s Bill Krum, Playwright Paul Rudnick had this to say about Rep. Fisher’s comments: “As for Rep. Dan Fisher, who’s called the play ‘pornography,’ well, I’m not sure that he’s ever seen or read the play. But in trying to censor the production, and to deny employment to a group of wonderful theater artists, I think that Rep. Fisher is being not just un-American, but un-Christian. I’d encourage Rep. Fisher to see the play, rather than simply condemning it – he might very well enjoy himself.”
Rudnick also commended OKCTC for producing his play, saying he was “delighted and grateful” for it. He said in his statement that the play is a comic and deeply sympathetic exploration of faith, and that audiences all over the country have found it both entertaining and surprising.
“Whether these people are serious about taking us out or if they are just talking, it still intimidates artists as well as the LGBT community to see this in the papers,” adds Irick.
The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told by Paul Rudnick, opens December 5th in the CitySpace theatre, a small theater in the basement of the Civic Center Music Hall. The show runs through Dec. 22nd. Performances are Thursdays-Saturdays with Sunday matinees on December 15th and 22nd. There will be a “preview performance” on Thursday, December 5th. Tickets will be half price ($10) for that night only. Opening night is Friday, December 6th. The show is recommended for adults only as it does have sexual themes and graphic language.
If you have questions for Representative Fisher, we encourage you to call him at (405) 557-7311 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. However, Fisher has yet to return the calls left at his capitol office by The Gayly several weeks ago.
About the show: OKCTC presents this rib-tickling satirical take on selected stories from the Bible.
Act One is a retelling of the major episodes of the Old Testament and the Nativity story.
Act Two jumps to modern day where Adam and Steve (who met in Eden, broke up during the flood, and were reunited when they both show up as shepherds during the Nativity) are together again. The two men comfort each other even though their remaining time will be short.
A hilarious comedy with a surprisingly dramatic heart. Produced by special arrangement with Dramatist Play Service, Inc.
The OKCTC Board of Directors include Carolyn Saal – President; Shawnee Brittan – Vice President; Katy Gustafson – Secretary; Chad Linville – Treasurer; Justin Holliday and Joanna M. Champlin.
Posted Nov. 7th, 2013