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

A&M chancellor called Tarleton State officials on same day gay Jesus play was canceled

Last week, Dallas Voice online editor John Wright posted this blog (“Rick Perry killed the gay Jesus”), citing a note from Conservative Republicans President Steve Hotze thanking Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for pressuring Tarleton State officials into cancelling a student class project production of Terrance McNally’s play “Corpus Christi.”

John Jordan Otte, the student who was presenting the play for his project, suggested at the time of the cancellation that “jobs had been threatened,” and that’s why it was canceled.

School officials and representatives for both Dewhurst and Gov. Rick Perry, however, continued to deny Dewhurst and Perry put any pressure on school officials and reiterated their claim that the play was canceled over security issues in the face of planned protests.

But now Fort Worth Weekly has published a wire service article by Rachel Dudley with Texan News Service claiming Texan News Service has obtained phone records that appear to support the claims that elected officials pressured the school. Fort Worth Weekly reports:

However, records released this week show that, in the hours leading up to the cancellation decision, Dottavio received five calls on his cell phone from top officials in the Texas A&M University System, of which Tarleton is a part. …

Records reflecting the calls — but not their content — were released by the university in response to a request by the Texan News Service under the state’s open records law. The calls, totaling 35 minutes, were placed between 4:29 and 8:15 p.m. on March 26, the day Terrence McNally’s controversial play, “Corpus Christi,” was canceled. According to one person present, who asked not to be named, university officials met for about an hour during that same period to discuss the fate of the play, scheduled for performance the following morning.

Dottavio reports to A&M system Chancellor Dr. Michael McKinney, who, records show, placed one of the phone calls. McKinney reports to the A&M Board of Regents, whose members are appointed by the governor.

At the end of the lengthy article, Dudley points out:

Tarleton has also suspended student journalists’ access to its YouTube channel. Students had used the channel to post Texan TV News newscasts, including stories about the play and its aftermath. Officials said they were suspending access to the channel  until policies governing its use can be promulgated. They later authorized the posting of a two-week-old news broadcast.

The university also temporarily suspended journalism students’ access to post Texan News Service print stories on the university web site but lifted that ban for the remainder of the semester.

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—  admin