Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Let the box office decide
This is in response to your article on July 9 about Summerville Town Council’s decision to withhold tourism funds for the Flowertown Players because of their personal objections about the recent production of the musical “Rent.” I have been a strong advocate of Community Theatre for more than 30 years – in my hometown of Tupelo, MS, in the southeast region with Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC), and nationally, serving on the board of American Association of Community Theatre (AACT). Demographically, Summerville is very similar to Tupelo. It disturbs me greatly that this action might set a precedent that could potentially affect my theatre and others.
I strongly believe that your town council should do what it does best — govern your fine community. And it should let the local community theatre do what it does best – select and present productions that are artistically significant and commercially viable. The box office serves as a much better censor than a town council. I have served on the play selection committee for my local theatre for many years and I can assure you that if “Rent” is financially successful, it means your community is accepting (for the most part) of it and it will bring tourism dollars in. If it is not successful, Flowertown Players will not remain solvent if it continues to produce shows similar to it.
Even though “Rent” is not one of my personal favorites, I would adamantly defend ANY community theatre’s decision to produce it. After many years of helping select plays for my theatre to produce, it is difficult to tell in advance what patrons might object to – a case in point, Tupelo Community Theatre did not receive a single complaint and sold out a run of the southern classic “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” despite its extremely salty language and mature subject matter. However, it did have patrons walk out of and complain about “Greater Tuna,” which did not have any bad language but did have men playing child and female roles.
I would encourage Summerville Town Council to continue to grant Flowertown Players tourism dollars because they do bring patrons to your community. And allow them the freedom to continue to select and produce plays and musicals that retain and attract patrons and performers.
Region Representative to the AACT Board of Directors
Bravo to council
I would like to commend the Summerville Town Council’s decision for holding off allocating funds to the Flowertown Players due to the play Rent.
It has been a long time since I’ve been to a Flowertown play; I sometimes took my mother and there were some good ones.
The best one I remember was The Sound of Music. Since I had seen the movie many years before, I couldn’t conceive how they could present it on such a small stage but it was great.
Too bad so many people think to be entertained the language has to be foul and the subject matter raunchy.
Variety of theater offered
I am writing in response to Councilman Terry Jenkins’ remarks in the Journal Scene 7/9 concerning the Flowertown Players’ production of “Rent”. The councilman is opposed to the Flowertown Players receiving Tax Advisory Committee funds they requested because he said the production was “the raunchiest thing I’ve ever seen.” The Flowertown Players is a commendable group of hardworking, talented volunteers who present a great variety of productions each season. Some recent examples are: “Grease”, “Chicago”, “Cinderella”, “Pippi Longstocking” and a three week Summer Workshop for students. They also collaborate with other community nonprofits, such as the Summerville Dorchester Museum and Habitat for Humanity. Their website describes the various plays, so one could choose not to attend if language or content is deemed inappropriate.
The Players are a non-profit organization that relies on community support through memberships, ticket sales and grants for funding. The funds requested represent a significant amount to this community theatre and I would be greatly dismayed to have future productions jeopardized by denial.
A final thought: When a government entity voices thoughts verging on censorship, it is treading on very dangerous ground.
A longtime theatre patron,
Mary Ann Bridgman
Rough language is situational
I recently read in the Journal Scene about the controversy concerning funding for the Flowertown Players.
It seems that certain members of the Board and some of the public were offended by the language in the recent production of the award winning Broadway musical Rent. There is some rough language in the show, but no more rough language than in many movies appearing in local theaters. For example, I recently saw the ”R” rated movie Lone Survivor and I can assure you that there was an abundance of rough language in the film which chronicles an event in Afghanistan involving US Navy Seals.
The other objection, reported in the paper, dealt with HIV/AIDS. This is a serious health and social issue. Broadway shows have been famous for their groundbreaking depiction of social issues, notably South Pacific, that addressed the issue of racism with its secondary plot involving the song, You Have to be Taught. Today, that issue is barely recognizable in the play because the society has moved on, but at the time, it was considered quite daring and highly controversial. So it is with HIV/AIDS in Rent. While a cure has yet to be found, treatments and preventative drugs and procedures have, so the situation is much improved from the one depicted in the production. But that still does not change the importance of the show or the statement it makes.
If someone is concerned about a particular play, they should research it to find out if they would like to attend it or if they would rather not. The internet is available and Flowertown does provide summaries of the productions.
In sum, I urge the Board to approve funding for Flowertown Players. This group is a tremendous asset to the community. It brings a variety of productions, aimed at a variety of tastes to Summerville. They cannot all be, nor will they all be, The Sound of Music, that will be presented this fall. Many of the classic Greek tragedies and Shakespeare deal with murder, incest, and suicide. There will be future productions like Rent, and, perhaps, ones that those who found Rent offensive even more offensive and there will be ones in between. That is the nature of the theater.
Support authority for libraries
One wonders about our Governor’s sensibilities with regard to decision-making. Her recent veto of a bill intended to help South Carolina’s public libraries keep disrupters out is unconscionable. The Governor vetoed the bill in the “interest of preserving due process and maintain the spirt of true public use for publicly funded facilities”.
Does it not occur to her that most public facilities today have security systems to ward off disrupters? The Library is a learning institution, as well as public schools and colleges who maintain security, but the Library is without legal authority to restrict access.
Libraries seek a legal and uniform process to assist in regulating such disrupters. The Library staff is ultimately held to task if someone disrupts or harms those visiting or the well-being of the facility and staff. Is the Governor willing to chance someone being injured or equipment damaged, without recourse?
Many assets within the Library require historic preservation e.g., books, maps, documents. Equipment must be safeguarded, as replacement value can be extensive, not to mention impacts to visitor’s usage.
Although the Senate voted to override the veto, the House did not, and the tangled mess is ongoing. Frequencies and severity of incidents are increasing. Perhaps the Governor may wish to access the Library resources to determine the amount of out of state Libraries that have instituted access regulating processes.
Shirley B. Berardo
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