Doc on “Corpus Christi” controversy to open

A documentary about the 108 Productions’ run of Terrence McNally’s play Corpus Christi will premiere on April 29.

An online petition by the right-wing Catholic site America Needs Fatima has drawn over 7,000 signatures to date calling on the Castro Theater in San Francisco to cancel the engagement. It calls Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption blasphemy.

In 2010, a student at Tartleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, planned to present a scene from the play as the final for his master’s level stage directing class. The presentation would not have been open to the public. However, an uproar about the presentation ended with its cancellation after pressure from the offices of Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is now running for U.S. Senate.

That summer, 108 Productions brought the play to Cathedral of Hope in Dallas.

The play portrays Jesus as a gay man in Texas in the 1950s.

The opening of the movie will launch the I AM Love Campaign, whose mission is to change the story on religious bullying and homophobia, in all ages and walks of life, by first learning to love the self.

See a sneak preview below.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Male cheerleader at TX high school kicked off squad, suspended over gay kiss

A male cheerleader at Alice High School in South Texas has been kicked off the squad and suspended from school for kissing another male student. The 17-year-old senior said the kiss was caught on a surveillance camera in the high school’s band hall, leading him to believe he was being monitored because of his sexual orientation. KRISTV.com in Corpus Christi reports:

The young man spent countless hours practicing every day for years to make the varsity cheer squad, and he had it all taken away from him in an instant.

Perhaps most surprising, is the way the student was caught. Not in person by a teacher, but by surveillance camera, leading the young man to believe he was being watched and targeted by school officials simply because of his sexual orientation.

“They never check cameras for anything unless something is stolen,” the young man said, asking not be identified. “We would be the ones getting caught because I’m sure we were the only ones, sexual orientation wise, being caught like that.”

The boy said public displays of affection are a relatively common occurrence at Alice HS, and he believes that the principal would not have targeted him had he been caught kissing a female student.

“In this school [kissing] is everywhere, if that were the case, suspending everyone for that, half the school would be suspended,” he said.

The student’s family says it was told the principal’s decision to suspend him for two days and kick him off the cheerleading squad is under review. If the student isn’t reinstated to the cheerleading squad, the family plans further action. According to the school’s website, Principal Lucy Munoz can be reached at 361-664-0126. District Superintendent Salvador Cavazos can be reached at drscavazos@aliceisd.net.

Watch the video report below.

—  John Wright

From screen to stage

Q Cinema veterans tackle live theater with the guerrilla-like QLive!

CURTAIN UP! | Producing partners Todd Camp and Kyle Trentham have theater backgrounds, but QLive! is a departure from the movie-focused work their organization, Q Cinema, has done for a dozen years.

MARK LOWRY  | Special Contributor
marklowry@theaterjones.com

………………..

QLIVE: NONE OF THE ABOVE
Trinity Bicycles patio,
207 S. Main St., Fort Worth.
Sept. 23–24 at 8 p.m.
$15, QCinema.org

…………………

Anyone who’s ever wanted to start a theater company will tell you that the biggest hurdle is finding the right space. It’s no different in DF-Dub, where the opportunities seem endless, but affordable spaces that can work for the demands of theater are limited.

QLive!, a new theater company based in Fort Worth, is finding ways to work around that. Its first full production, for instance, is None of the Above , a two-person drama by Jenny Lyn Bader. It opens Friday on the back patio of a bicycle shop just west of downtown Cowtown.

“One of the things we’ve talked about is the immersive experience, where it’s not just that you sit down and watch a show, but you experience a show,” says QLive’s Todd Camp, who founded Fort Worth’s LGBT film festival, Q Cinema. “The three shows that we have lend themselves quite well to that.”

Those three shows, which run this fall, begin with Above, which deals with a parochial school student and her teacher. In November, there’ll be Yasmina Reza’s oft-produced Art, which will hopefully happen in a gallery space (they’re still negotiating). It will close out the year with Terrence McNally’s controversial Corpus Christi, taking place in a machine shop near downtown Fort Worth.

QLive! has been a project three years in the making, and will be led by Camp’s Q Cinema cohort Kyle Trentham, as artistic director. The group has already launched a successful Tuesday night open mike comedy event at Percussions Lounge, and in February presented a staged reading of Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play Spring Awakening, the day before the musical based on that play opened at Bass Performance Hall. They also brought Hollywood comedy writer Bruce Vilanch in for a one-night performance.

Like other arts groups with a large LGBT following that present works of interest to that community — including Uptown Players and the Turtle Creek Chorale — Trentham says QLive doesn’t want the label of “gay theater” … despite the big “Q” in its name.

“Young [audiences] don’t think in those terms anymore,” he says. “They just want to see theater they like.”

With Corpus Christi, Trentham says that creating an immersive experience will be crucial to the production. “It’s a working machine shop,” he says. “You walk in and the actors are working, getting their hands dirty. Then in the cleansing scene, they actually are cleaned.”

Camp, who has led Q Cinema for 13 years, is no stranger to controversy. He was a critical player in the late ‘90s “Labor of Love” project at the now-defunct Fort Worth Theatre. That group presented shows like Paul Rudnick’s Jeffrey and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, and Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band. A few times, there were protesters in front of the performance space, Orchestra Hall.

Considering the dust-up Corpus Christi caused in Texas last year when a Tarelton State University junior had his student production of it canceled, Camp is prepared for blowback.

“You are not going to tell me what I can and cannot do in my town, even if you’re the lieutenant governor,” he says. “This is an important work by a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who’s from Texas. … It’s an incredibly pro-spiritual show. It’s not anti-religion or blasphemous. It takes organized religion, which has been used to club the gay and lesbian community for many years, and retells the story that makes it a little more compatible and open to them.”

For now, they’ll have to see how their audience deals with a show outside a bike shop.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

God doesn’t answer prayers of religious leaders who fought SA production of ‘Corpus Christi’

After unsuccessful efforts by religious conservatives to have it canceled, Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi opens tonight at the San Pedro Playhouse in San Antonio, the Express-News reports:

As it has across the country, the play has sparked some discord. Interfaith leaders met with Playhouse staff and asked that it be canceled. After their request was denied, they held a news conference last month denouncing the show and its portrayal of Christ.

[Greg] Hinojosa agreed to direct it, he said, because he was moved by the play’s message.

“For so long, gay people have been denied being able to sit at the table of spirituality,” he said. “Terrence McNally is very clear with his Jesus/Joshua character. His message is of love and acceptance and the divinity in all of us.”

Hinojosa has struck up a correspondence with McNally as a result of his work on the play. McNally has sent him several encouraging emails, noting that the play has prompted heated responses since its premiere at the Manhattan Theatre Club in 1998. At that production, patrons had to walk through metal detectors.

The San Pedro Playhouse will have additional security throughout the show’s run, its first in San Antonio, to ensure the safety of audience members and of the cast and crew, said Frank Latson, artistic director of the playhouse.

QSanAntonio has more on the correspondence between McNally and the play’s director, including the full text of an email from McNally to Hinojosa:

“It’s hard to work under such intense scrutiny,” McNally wrote. “I don’t envy you the pressure you’re under. I hope you and your cast stay safe and calm and creative and JOYFUL and that your voices are heard. I wish I could be with you in person but I am truly swamped with work in NYC.

“Let me know how I can be helpful from afar.

“Tell the cast how grateful I am to them. I won’t pretend the next weeks are going to be easy but I am confident they will be rewarding.”

—  John Wright

SA homophobes put new twist on played-out protests of Terrence McNally’s ‘Corpus Christi’

You’ve gotta hand it to the Alamo City. First they brought us Dan Ramos, and now this.

The San Antonio Express-News reports that a group of so-called religious leaders has banded together to denounce a scheduled production of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi at the San Pedro Playhouse, which happens to receive a small amount of funding from the city.

As you’re undoubtedly aware, McNally’s “gay Jesus” play has sparked controversy in various places across the country, including in 2010 at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, when a scheduled production prompted Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to intervene.

But to their credit, these San Antonio homophobes aren’t just repeating tired old criticisms of the play about blasphemy, etc. That’s right, even though it’s total bullshit, at least they’ve come up with a new reason for opposing Corpus Christi: The group, which plans a news conference at City Hall this afternoon, claims that in addition to portraying “such a profane and disrespectful depiction of Jesus Christ,” the play is “insensitive” to the gay community because it contains a “crude portrayal of homosexual men.” Here’s an excerpt from the group’s letter:

“It would be easy, but inaccurate, to dispose of our concerns as a homophobic response to the depiction of Jesus as a homosexual leading a band of homosexual apostles. While many may find this characterization troubling, we feel that the crude portrayal of homosexual men in this play is, at best, an exaggerated caricature that is insensitive also to our gay and lesbian community.”

—  John Wright

Controversy over GSA at Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi scares away faculty sponsor

Nikki Peet

Undoubtedly you’ll recall that earlier this month, Corpus Christi’s Flour Bluff Independent School District reluctantly agreed to allow a chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance.

When the district initially refused student Nikki Peet’s application for the GSA, the ACLU threatened legal action and hundreds of people protested outside Flour Bluff High School.

Almost a month later, KZTV Channel 10 reports that although the district ultimately voted to allow it, the GSA chapter still has not met because the faculty sponsor has backed out:

Peet says the student Gay Straight Alliance did have a sponsor, but the sponsor backed out after the controversy started getting attention. Peet also says Flour Bluff’s Superintendent Julie Carbajal is organizing a committee on Friday to review the policy created in 2005 that does not allow limited open forums at the school.

We’ve got a message in to Peet to get more information. You can sue to force a school or district to allow a GSA, but what do you do when faculty members are scared to sponsor it because they’re afraid of backlash? The irony of this whole saga, of course, is that it demonstrates precisely why the GSA is so badly needed.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Flour Bluff, Navy DADT discharge, Israel

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A gay-straight alliance will be allowed temporarily at Flour Bluff ISD near Corpus Christi. We reported last week that all clubs had been banned from the school rather than allow a GSA. A resolution passed at a five-hour school district meeting that will allow the club temporarily.

2. A navy petty officer will be discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell” after falling asleep in bed with another man. This will be the first DADT discharge since November. Although a repeal has been signed, the policy is still in place until all branches of the armed forces certify it as ready. That should happen in June. They were watching a movie and fell asleep on a twin bed, one under the covers, one over. A roommate of one walked in and reported the incident. No “homosexual conduct” was reported and the incident is being labeled an extreme overreaction.

3. While cities like Dallas are marketing themselves as a great gay destination, Israel is now going after that market as well. At an international tourism fair in Berlin, a delegation from Tel Aviv will invite LGBT tourists to visit their city. The city spent $94 million to promote tourism to the LGBT community last year. The effort will be expanded in 2011.

—  David Taffet

Flour Bluff ISD will allow GSA and other groups on campus — at least for now

Trustees for Flour Bluff High Independent School District approved a resolution late Tuesday night to allow a proposed Gay-Straight Alliance — along with other non-curricular groups — to meet on the school campus, at least temporarily, according to KRISTV, the NBC station in Corpus Christi.

The vote allows the the groups, including a GSA, to meet while the district conducts a study before making a permanent decision. The vote came after nearly five hours, about four of which the trustees spent in a closed executive session discussing the situation.

The decision came after the ACLU threatened legal action against the Flour Bluff High School, where school officials had refused to allow student Nikki Peet to form the GSA, although other groups, like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, were allowed to meet on campus. School officials then banned all groups to avoid having to allow the GSA.

Nikki Peet was not able to attend the meeting because she is in the hospital being treated for an infection. But her mother, Maria Peet, and other family members were there to speak for her. Members of the GSA at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi — to whom Nikki Peet had appealed for help — also attended the school board meeting.

Jay Raymond with the TAMU-CC group said his group would be there to “see this through,” and pledged, “There is no chance of this dying down until what we want is what we get.”

—  admin

Pink Noise: The Dallas Voice Podcast

 

In this week’s episode, John Wright and Rich Lopez discussed the GSA controversy in Corpus Christi, Baylor University’s decision to deny the charter for an LGBT student group, anti-bullying bills in the Texas Legislature, Rich’s interview with Clay Aiken this week, Mardi Gras celebrations this weekend in Dallas, and more.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Rally in support of Gay Straight Alliance outside Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi

As many as 150 people gathered outside Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi on Friday to protest the school district’s decision to deny a chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance.

Flour Bluff High School student Bianca “Nikki” Peet, 17, has been trying to launch the GSA since November.

Last week, Flour Bluff Superintendent Julia Carbajal announced that the district would bar all non-curricular clubs from meeting on campus in order to avoid allowing the GSA.

The American Civil Liberties Union responded by threatening legal action against the district, saying officials are required to allow the GSA under the First Amendment and the federal Equal Access Act.

On Friday, supporters of the GSA rallied outside the school for eight hours and presented a petition with more than 28,000 signatures to a district spokesman. A handful of anti-gay counterprotesters, led by right-wing radio host Bob Jones, gathered across the street.

At one point, according to the video report below, a pro-GSA protester tried to give a couterprotester some water. The counterprotester responded by saying he wouldn’t touch anything a gay man had, telling him to “stay away from my grandson.”

—  John Wright