Adam Polaski

Anti-Gay Censorship Kills New Opera

Filed By Adam Polaski | July 05, 2011 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Beached, Billy Elliot, Bridlington, England, Lee Hall, LGBT, North Opera, opera, theatre

Theatre.jpegThe man behind Billy Elliot, Lee Hall, has canceled production on his latest creative project after a community uproar over some of the project's gay references. The show, Beached, an opera commissioned by Opera North, was set to debut on July 15 in Bridlington, England.

The opera involved nearly 400 members of the Bridlington community, 300 of whom were children ages four to 11. Because of the children, the opera company, after hearing complaints from the school that the children attend, asked Hall to excise several references to homosexuality that the company deemed "explicit."

It appears that the main cause for concern was a scene that actually didn't involve any children. The protagonist sings to a group of men, "Of course I'm queer/That's why I left here/So if you infer/That I prefer/A lad to a lass/ And I'm working class/ I'd have to concur."

Hall refused to remove the lines, and the company subsequently canceled the production.

Hall responded in a piece for The Guardian:

The request seemed to come from a completely different era. I thought there must be some mistake and that Opera North would support me by finding a way round this completely outdated hysteria. I was amazed when they accepted the school's position. I was repeatedly asked to excise these references to the adult character being gay. ... No one will countenance the idea that there could be homophobia at play. The argument is that everyone is just worried about other people's sensitivities. It amounts to the same thing. Effectively, I feel I am not being allowed to represent a gay person."

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There's a petition to push for the opera being put back on in Bridlington
http://www.change.org/petitions/asking-opera-north-to-stand-against-homophobia-and-bring-beached-back-to-bridlington

Also there's a facebook group started by Lee Hall to discuss the problem and talk about how to move forward.
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_237356502959048

Composer Nico Muhly (whose gay-ish internet opera just premiered at ENO and is coming to the Met in 2013-14) has smart things to say: http://nicomuhly.com/news/2011/my-hair-is-laid-like-online-homophobia-operatic-tweet-cloud/