The Playgoer: McNally

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Monday, July 18, 2005


Terence McNally has a new play premiering in San Francisco this fall. It's title: Crucifixion. What's it about? According to a press release quoted in, "a high profile TV producer who is violently murdered by a Jesuit priest."

Expect another kulturkampf. While the mass media cares not a jot about the theatre and new plays, the religious right will use the airwaves to (pardon me) resurrect Corpus Cristi and destroy not just McNally, but what they perceive as the liberal-queer conspiracy of theatre as an enterprise. Especially if any state or federal grant money is involved. You heard it here first...

(Thank God--again, pardon--for SF's New Conservatory Theatre Center for having the guts to produce it.)


Anonymous said...

It doesn't take guts to produce superficial plays, it takes guys to reject bad plays. Corpus Christi was an under-imagined, hastily-written, angry string of monologues that did not cohere. It should not have been produced.

Playgoer said...

I won't defend the play "Corpus Christi" since I must admit I haven't read or seen it. And I agree it takes no act of courage to produce a bad play. But to persist with a play you believe in despite death threats and constant vitriol--I do praise that. (And that's a kind of courage Manhattan Theatre Club infamously lacked when they initially cancelled "Corpus" back when, before rethinking.)...So point taken about the potential inadequacies of the play itself, but we just can't let these loudmouths shut down the playhouses once again, I say.

Anonymous said...

The point is that MTC actually bowed to PC pressure. They cancelled the play because it was not ready, it was bad -- like McNally's latest, which got picked up by Primary Stages. They didn't cancel Corpus Christi because of pressure from the religious right.

More theatres should have the courage to turn away bad plays and make room for younger playwrights.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for young playwrights getting their shot. And I've only heard bad things about Corpus Christi.

But on the facts, the Playgoer is correct: MTC cancelled the play precisely because of political pressure. At least that was the Club's public explanation.

From the New York Times, Page E1, May 27, 1998:

The theater club, meanwhile, defended its decision not to stage Terrence McNally's new play, "Corpus Christi. The club's two top administrators said yesterday they had acted after anonymous telephone threats to burn down the theater, kill the staff and "exterminate" Mr. McNally.

"This became an issue of safety, not censorship," Lynne Meadow, the nonprofit theater's artistic director, said in a telephone interview, speaking out for the first time since the dispute erupted last week over the play, "Corpus Christi," which one Roman Catholic group characterized as depicting a a Christ-like figure who has sex with his disciples. Ms. Meadow said that the threats had been reported to the police, but that the decision to cancel the production had been the theater's alone.

Anonymous said...

This was a cover -- Meadow and McNally are friends, it was said to protect him. They didn't want to do the play because it stunk.