Friday, February 22, 2008

What A Wonder Is A Gun

Arkansas Tech University - my alma mater and the alma mater of my brother, parents, grandparents and great-grandfather - has "postponed" a production of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins because, according to the press release, "the production, which portrays scenes of violence, was thought to be too sensitive in view of recent tragic events that have taken place on other campuses around the United States."

OK. School shootings are senseless and tragic. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn't agree with that statement. But I truly believe that a musical representation of successful and would-be presidential assassins is not going to incite violence on our nation's college campuses. Far from it. In fact, the simultaneously disturbing and funny musical could start a dialogue among college students, getting them talking about history, politics, art, violence, and the genius that is Stephen Sondheim.

Now, at Tech, they won't get the chance.

I would like to close by talking about Joe Bertucci. Joe was the director at a community theatre where I played a lot, and I learned more from him in three shows than I ever thought possible. Joe shaped the lives, both artistic and personal, of everyone he came in contact with, and I am honored that I knew him. Joe liked to borrow a phrase from FP Dunne: "It is is the duty of theatre to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." Joe, I wonder what you'd make of this - in this situation, who's comfortable? Who's afflicted?

I'd like to further close with these lyrics from "Gun Song" from Assassins:
What a wonder is a gun!
What a versatile invention!
First of all when you've a gun -
Everybody pays attention!

Tech administration's poor, poor decision - F

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