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NY theater to stage play featuring 'Gay Christ' despite - Maharashtra Herald

Reuter ()
May 31, 1998

Title: NY theater to stage play featuring 'Gay Christ' despite
Author: Reuter
Publication: Maharashtra Herald
Date: May 31, 1998

A New York theater company reversed a decision not to produce
Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally's 'Corpus Christi,'
which features a homosexual Christ-like figure, despite death
threats and protests from some Catholics.

The Manhattan Theater Club had said a week ago the play would not
be produced this: fall because of security problems.

But on Thursday is announced at a news conference that 'Corpus
Christi' would be mounted as originally scheduled, "subject to
final confirmation from the police department of adequate
security measures."

"After information about the play appeared prematurely in the
press, we received numerous death threats to Mr McNally, and
finally, a threat to exterminate the author., the staff and our
audiences and burn the building to the ground," the
organization's artistic director, Lynne Meadow, said.

But in the last day consultation with New York City Police
Commissioner Howard Safir provided "The reasonable assurances we,
need to produce this play responsibly and safely," Meadow said.

McNally is among Broadway's most prominent playwrights, winning
Tonys in recent seasons for 'Master Class' and 'Love! Valour!
Compassion!' and he was nominated for writing the book, or
script, of the hit musical 'Ragtime.'

Meadow said the theater company had not received confirmation the
McNally would still mount the play at Manhattan Theater Club.
"Our assumption is he would like to go ahead," she said. Other
companies were reported to have expressed interest in the play
after the theater company said last week it was dropping it from
its fall schedule.

The flap began when the New York Post reported the work in
progress featured a gay Christ-like character who has sex with
his disciples.

The Catholic League then blasted the work, calling it "sick
beyond words" and "deeply offensive to Catholics," and launched a
letter-writing protest campaign.

The league said in a later release that if another company did
the play, "we'll wage a war that no one will forget."

Manhattan Theater Club's description of 'Corpus Christi', which
it would not elaborate on, said it depicts "a young gay man named
Joshua on his spiritual journey" and "the 12 disciples who choose
to follow him." It concludes that McNally "give us his own unique
view of the greatest story ever told."

Meadow and executive producer Barry Grove said the theater had
received numerous protest calls and at least five threatening
calls after news reports on the play's content.

They played a tape of one call, which directed its message at
"Jew guilty homosexual Terrence McNally" and threatened, to
"exterminate every member of the theater and burn the place to
the ground. This is a message from the National Security
Movement of America. Death to the Jews worldwide."

Meadow said police were notified, but that it was initially
decided that staging the play as scheduled would have been

In light of the reversal, South African playwright Athol Fugard
said he would be "absolutely delighted to bring back my play 'The
Captain's Tiger'" to the theater company. Fugard had withdrawn
his play after Manhattan Theater Club said it was dropping
'Corpus Christi' from its fall roster.

A letter signed by virtually every prominent playwright in the
nation also landed the action, calling it a "brave and honorable

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