Oklahoma City theatre company attacked by radical right

Rachel Iricks, Artistic Director, Oklahoma City Theatre Company. Photo by Robin Dorner

by Robin Dorner
Editor in Chief

When the artistic director of Oklahoma City Theatre Company decided to run, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, she really didn’t think it would create the controversial firestorm that is now surrounding the production.

Right-wing Republican representative from Yukon, OK, Dan Fisher is attempting to block the play from being presented on December 5th through the 22nd because he deems it pornographic. Mostly because of his efforts the company has lost their grant funding from the Oklahoma Arts Council for this show – to the tune of $5,000.

Rep. Fisher is an Oklahoma pastor who belongs to a radical right-wing organization calling themselves the “Patriot Pastors”.  This group defies the Federal law that prohibits 501(c)3 organizations, such as charities and churches from engaging in political campaign activities. Also, a member of this organization is Steve Kern, husband of the notorious homophobe Rep. Sally Kern. Steve Kern has announced his candidacy for Oklahoma state senate seat Dist. 40 in 2014.

“Our 2013-2014 theatre season is rich with diversity. It’s what I have wanted for our company since I took the reins.” said OCTC artistic director, Rachel Irick. “I just didn’t think it would cause this much of a stir. I did just find out about the politician trying to block the show last Thursday. I don’t even know how he found it because we haven’t even started marketing it.

“No one has contacted us to cancel the show. In fact, the Civic Center has made it clear that they do not censor the shows and they will be the host location for the play.” Irick selected the play about a year ago when planning for the 2013-2014 season and the OCTC board approved it.

“We’ve known for over a year that we were going to do this show. I was surfing for titles online and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told came up,” Irick continued. “I thought, ‘We need to build our diverse audience and offer a different Christmas story.’”

This hugely popular play has been seen by audiences across the nation in such cities as Chicago, Boston and even Ft. Worth. The show opened off Broadway in NYC on December 14, 1998 performed by NY Theatre Workshop and received great reviews.

This entire attempt to censor what adult audiences can or cannot view in Oklahoma City leaves us at The Gayly questioning, “How can OKC become that “Big League City” that our Mayor, Mick Cornett, refers to if we won’t even allow controversial theatre to the stage.” It’s satire and it’s not been deemed “pornographic or obscene” in other “Big League” cities.

“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.”

On a side note, Kight and his partner Jay Jay were legally married on Sept. 6th in NYC. They took about $3,000 out of our state and spend it in New York where same-sex marriage is legal. The "Business of Marriage Equality" is featured in the August print issue of The Gayly and is now online at www.gayly.com

“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 Arts Council says they are just following the rules. ‘State funds can’t go to anything with a simulated sex scene,’ is what Irick was told. “The sex theme is more of a satirical theme than anything that would turn you on. It’s just a funny play.

“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. This is definitely the most diverse season we have had.”

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 for that night only ($10). Opening night is Friday, December 6th. The show is recommended for adults only as it does have sexual themes and graphic language.

For more information about the show or to donate (to help replace the $5,000 not forecoming from the Arts Council), visit www.okctheatrecompany.org. To purchase tickets, visit www.myticketoffice.com.

If you have questions for Representative Fisher, we encourage you to call him at (405) 557-7311 or email him at dan.fisher@houseok.gov - our community grows stronger with good and persistent activists.

OCTC Board of Directors include Carolyn Saal – President, Shawnee Brittan – Vice President, Katy Gustafson – Secretary, Chad Linville – Treasurer, Justin Holliday and Joanna M. Champlin.

ABOUT THE SHOW: Seeking a theatrical offering for the holidays that challenges the norm and appeals to an alternative audience, OKCTC presents this rib-tickling satirical take on selected stories from the Bible. Act 1 is a retelling of the major episodes of the Old Testament and the Nativity story. Act 2 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. Bound by their long life together, 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.