The Playgoer: And the Little Dog [redacted]

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

And the Little Dog [redacted]

Who would have thought it, but a Douglas Carter Beane play has generated controversy!

In Chicago, the gay troupe About Face for some reason nixed the called-for nudity in a key scene. And somehow didn't tell Beane before inviting him to opening night.

Well they had told him--and he said no. But then they did it anyway.

His response?

Beane attended the Chicago production's Jan. 16 opening performance and found that a nude scene he said is important to the plot had been altered (the actors remain in their underwear) and that lines were slightly changed to accommodate the trim, the author told Playbill.com.

[...]

Beane said the theatre had made the request to cut the nudity as early as Jan. 7, but the playwright said no at the time. Nevertheless, Rosen went ahead and changed it.

The playwright addressed his concerns at intermission Jan. 16 and said he was told that the nudity would be added back into the production at the next performance.

[...]

Beane said the nude scene is important to the play — and that there are later dialogue references to it. "It's the shock of two characters who have been denying that they're gay undeniably in a moment of homosexuality," Beane told Playbill.com.

They did come to some settlement over allowing the show to go on as is, as long as director/ Artitistic Director Eric Rosen does some penance: confessing his sins openly to the press. (And thereby providing a distancing disclaimer for Beane.)

Kudos to Playbill's Kenneth Jones for getting the dirt on this story.

But I'm still left asking the question: a small, openly gay theatre, in Chicago, felt it necessary to "PG" a nude scene in an openly gay play???

Rosen's official rationale--that he couldn't change the decision now because nudity wasn't specified in the auditions as per AEA rules--seems a little lame. Unless it hints at some truer reason, like their star actor wasn't up to it?

Attention Chicago bloggers: anyone know what's up?


2 comments:

Rob Kozlowski said...

This is just bizarre. Unfortunately, Mr. Rosen is not saying a word to anybody now, so it's hard to say what the heck happened here. They certainly did *not* shy away from nudity in their production of "Take Me Out" a couple of years ago, which makes this whole thing even curiouser. In the original reports, Beane didn't know about the non-nude scene until he attended the January 16th performance. The Playbill.com item, however, is the first we've heard about this January 7th communication and since then, not a peep from Rosen, according to this Time Out Chicago article: http://www.timeout.com/chicago/articles/theater/26368/nude-descending-a-copyright-case

I really don't get this at all.

The Playgoer said...

Thanks for that Time Out link, Rob. Impressively strong words from Chris Piatt.

The director's response here (or non response) is indeed weird. My gut still says it came down to the star actor just not willing to do it, and he doesn't want to break his trust with that actor.

But Piatt's point about Beane having that problems with so MANY actors up for the play, and turning them down at the risk of losing their movie star cred at the box office, and thus effectively sealing Little Dog's commercial doom at the B'way Box Office....does put a new perspective on it.