I regret to inform you that the Evangelicals are at it again.
A high school Shakespeare play has sent Christian parents through the roof for depicting drinking, suicide and, most egregiously of all, a kiss shared between two people who happen to both be male people, which is truly shocking in this year of two thousand and eighteen years anno domini!
Have you ever heard of such decadence in all your days?! Because I surely haven't!
Anyway, the incident so upset approximately 30 parents and pastors in the local area that they gathered November 9 for a group prayer in front of the school. Now, never mind that the play in question, The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), is a farcical comedy, so the depictions of drinking and suicide are what is sometimes known in showbiz parlance as "jokes." Or that the play is meant to be performed solely by men, just like in Shakespeare's day, and that a stage kiss--essentially a peck on the cheek--between a woman character played by a man and a male character played by another man is playing pretty fast and loose with the definition of "homosexuality." Nuance is not Evangelicals' strong suit!
For a pastor in the audience, Nathan Silver, it was the suicide that most worried him. "Life's hard, and that seed can be planted of there's a way out," he told local news outlet WLOS News 13 about a farcical scene where a character commits suicide by "drowning" herself with a cup of water thrown in her face. (I was a theater major, and I know this play, and this entire story is bullroar. Anyway!)
But while the various pastors involved, along with Mitchell County Schools Superintendent Chad Calhoun, who shut down the play, were careful to make no mention of the gay kiss as an inciting incident for their protestations, some of the angry parents were not quite as hush-hush.
On social media, folks were not having it:
@Newsweek I just can't...— Matt Molewski (@Matt Molewski) 1542111758.0
@Newsweek This is baffling. The Bible has a similar amount of adult and inappropriate themes.— Lisa (@Lisa) 1542114013.0
@Newsweek So then do they lock all those kids up with blinders and headphones on every day? How can you not see the… https://t.co/VMuqGsFRqo— kathyking (@kathyking) 1542112616.0
@Newsweek #SoundsLikeBookBanning Again: It’s over zealous #religion that has us in trouble NOT the #FakeNewsMedia— Suzanne Robinson (@Suzanne Robinson) 1542111326.0
@Newsweek OMG! I thought bowdlerized versions of Shakespeare went out 200 years ago!— pjdiblasi (@pjdiblasi) 1542112418.0
@Newsweek Frailty thy name is North Carolina.— Kevin Cole (@Kevin Cole) 1542112593.0
@Newsweek Thoughts and prayers to those parents. They aren’t well— resistunitevote (@resistunitevote) 1542111489.0
@Newsweek But they’re cool with the Bible, one of the most violent collections of literature ever assembled.— A Mere Citizen (@A Mere Citizen) 1542139471.0
“homosexuality, suicide and horrible language” would be a fitting title for my autobiography tbh! I never felt clos… https://t.co/ezmEenXxyG— ♠ Olive Ex Machina ♠ (@♠ Olive Ex Machina ♠) 1542146303.0
Jeff Bachar, the Director of Parkway Playhouse, the theater company who put on the play for the school district, told WLOS, "We didn't set out to be controversial. I think it's encouraging some dialogue that's really healthy about some different topics, that's our purpose as a theater."
But Bachar's employer apparently disagrees: they shut the play down and issued the following statement that seems diametrically opposed to "healthy dialogue": "The intention was for it to be funny as well as to show how plays were actually performed in Shakespeare's day. Also, because the director is an experienced high school drama teacher, we believed that she would review the content and conduct to make it fun, educational and appropriate. This was not the case."
Guess satire and "educational" are mutually exclusive, at least in North Carolina.