Thursday, July 10, 2008
Update: The Wilmette Park District has reinstated an abbreviated run of Ragtime after previously canceling the summer production. The park district released a statement explaining the performance would be moved indoors. Below is an amended version of today's post.
Who would think that the musical Ragtime, winner of two Tony Awards, would have its production canceled two weeks prior to opening. This is exactly what happened to the Wilmette Park District's open-air production. The park's director cites the possibility that passers-by would hear some of the racially charged language and it would be taken out of context.
Read the Sun-Times and Tribune articles.
No one involved in the selection of the show had read the script in its entirety when the show was chosen and the rights were purchased in January. These events still should make us consider the following question:
As theatre artists, what responsibilities do we have to our audiences?
1) I applaud the Park District for having the decency to not force their production on any of the passers-by. Thank you for taking this responsibility. Especially in light of this blog's consideration of what makes theatre and what is the connection between artist and audience, this is a very big decision.
2) Not reading a script is blatant mismanagement. It is disrespectful to your audience.
3) Finally, what responsibility do we, as theatre artist, have to present our audience provocative material? Is this a missed opportunity to educate and enlighten as opposed to simply entertaining our audience? I guess it comes down to an organization's mission.