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'Corpus Christi' Canceled By Tarleton State University


by Jerome Weeks 29 Mar 2010

Saturday’s class production of Terrence McNally’s play, Corpus Christi, was canceled by college officials at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, after Lt. Governor David Dewhurst condemned McNally’s 1998 play, which features a gay Jesus figure named Joshua. In a press release, Dewhurst said that “no one should have the right to use government funds […]

CTA TBD

Saturday’s class production of Terrence McNally’s play, Corpus Christi, was canceled by college officials at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, after Lt. Governor David Dewhurst condemned McNally’s 1998 play, which features a gay Jesus figure named Joshua. In a press release, Dewhurst said that “no one should have the right to use government funds or institutions to portray acts that are morally reprehensible to the vast majority of Americans.” He also called the play by the Texas-born author a “lewd display.”

Tarleton officials originally defended the students’ right to perform the play but canceled it for safety concerns after receiving threatening messages and protests from church groups — and  increasing campus security in response. This meant that the entire program of four one-acts was halted only the day before the performance.

Theater Jones reports that Corpus Christi will be performed in North Texas soon but announced no other details.

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  • J.W. Merrick

    There were no threats. There was an outpouring of protests of this theater promoting something so offensive to huge numbers of persons who love, respect and revere the Person of Jesus. Even the timing added a slap in the face to Christians, scheduled as it was for the beginning of the solemn season of Holy Week – Easter.

    The “artists” involved in the offensive action naturally want to save face by upholding their “principles” (i.e., the “right” to perform ANYTHING, regardless of artistic or cultural merit). Therefore, they claim they were “threatened” and would need expensive extra security. Nonsense!

    It is appropriate that representatives of the Texans whose taxes support theater at Tarleton have rejected the adolescent choice to be deliberately provocatively offensive to the “hand that feeds.” This ill-conceived hate project should never have gotten off the ground.

    • A Foxx

      I respect your right as a citizen to express your views about this production, however i would appreciate it if you had all of your facts correct before you go ranting about it incorrectly in a public forum.

      This was not a deliberate attempt to “bash” Christians and the date that the plays were scheduled was planed over the summer before the play was even chosen.

      Furthermore, there were safety concerns involving the performance of the plays. It was far more than protests. You were there to witness the security that was being implemented.

      In the end it would be very appreciable for all person to refrain from commenting wildly about things that they don’t fully understand because they themselves have not used their ability to research and discover the facts. And slandering an event and a group of people without knowing what you are saying is far worse than anything that could have happened at this show had it not been violently ended by a “peaceful and loving” group of people.

  • Rawlins Gilliland

    No need for me to rehash the obvious that is almost always the case when these cultural clashes erupt. The outraged have never seen nor read the play. The defenders unwilling to comprehend the perceived affront. But recalling my student years in the arts, I do feel sorry for those who worked so hard so long to perform in one of the one-plays, who put in tremendous hours for naught….and disappointed their families who were all coming for the single presentation.

    One doesn’t have to strain their memories to recall the 1989 incident, beginning in new York… where artist Andres Serrano depicted a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist’s urine. That alone precluded any wider thought or discussion regarding the artist’s intent or context. On display in Australia in 1997, one patron attempted to remove the work from the gallery wall, and two teenagers later attacked it with a hammer. So this is not a strictly regional response to artistic controversy although parts of Texas are certainly fertile ground.

  • J.W. Merrick: While I can appreciate your hurt feelings and the fact that this play is indeed blasphemous, you have to see it within the cultural context if you want the whole story: this play is a reaction to thousands of years of Christian homophobia (which apparently is still running strong in Christian circles, judging by your ill-informed comment).

    There is a huge difference between an exercise of free speech/academic freedom and a “hate project”. The play attacks an idea: namely the homophobia and sexual repression that is commonly seen in Christianity. Ideas (unlike people) do not have rights, and should not have rights.

    It is critical for the furtherance of society that people retain free expression and academic freedom to challenge ideas so that bad ones can be exposed and good ones can be found. Your aversion to this is retarding the growth of America in the 21st century. Thanks for that.