More 'Corpus Christi' coming to Fort Worth

Q Live founders Todd Camp (left) and Kyle Trentham
Q Live founders Todd Camp (left) and Kyle Trentham

There should be plenty of theater for people to protest in Fort Worth over the next few months.

Todd Camp, Kyle Trentham and Q Cinema are bringing a full-scale production of the Terrence McNally play, “Corpus Christi” to Fort Worth’s Rose Marine Theater.

The student production that was banned on the Tarleton State University campus will be presented at the theater in May. Dallas Voice will be a sponsor of that production.

Then in July, Q Cinema’s new live production branch, QLive, will present a full production of the play. The play will run July 23-31. Camp said he’s been wanting to do the play since he saw a production of it in Austin five years ago.

The Tarleton protests ensured a local production.

—  David Taffet

'Corpus Christi' to be performed in Fort Worth

John Otte

John Otte

The controversial class production of the Terrence McNally play “Corpus Christi” will be performed in Fort Worth.

John Jordan Otte, the student who chose the play as a project for his advanced directing class, said that a date has not been set but he wants to finish the semester first. He said the date will probably be sometime in late May.

He is working with Elaine Liner and Mark Lowry of Theater Jones to bring the production to the Metroplex and the production will be held at the Rose Marine Theater west of downtown. The Fort Worth theater is more than 2 1/2 times larger than the space it would have been presented in at Tarleton State University.

—  David Taffet

McNally and partner wed in DC

Tom Kirhady and Terrence McNally

Tom Kirhady and Terrence McNally

Terrence McNally’s play “Corpus Christi” has been in the news quite a bit recently after a class project directing an excerpt of it was canceled at Tarleton State University in March.

Well, now news that should warm the hearts of the religious right in Stephenville is about McNally himself. In his play that riled the city, two characters marry. Now McNally and partner Tom Kirdahy married in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. where same-sex marriage is legal.

Kirdahy is an attorney and Broadway producer. McNally is a playwright whose other works include “The Ritz” and “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and books for the musicals “Ragtime,” “The Full Monty” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.”

—  David Taffet

‘Corpus Christi’ controversy continues at another college

John Otte at Tarleton State University might have started a new college trend. For a class project he prepared an excerpt from the Terrence McNally play “Corpus Christi,” which presents Jesus as gay.

gallaudetNow Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. is presenting the play with some additional twists to rankle the radical right who protested the Texas production into cancellation for safety reasons. (A presentation of Otte’s class production in the Metroplex in a larger venue is still pending).

The show was just recently added to the theater department’s schedule.

While Otte’s production was simply a class project and presentation was not open to the public, the Gallaudet presentation is theater department presentation. The D.C. production will be performed three times. At Tarleton, the play was slated for one performance.

Gallaudet University is a school for the deaf. So in this production Jesus will be deaf and gay. And that added “imperfection” of hearing impairment in this presentation is sure to rile the homophobes who don’t believe that Jesus embraced anyone other than married, suburban heterosexuals.

The protesters in D.C. are at work again but the university is standing by its production.

So by threatening violence against a student in a directing class in a small school 70 miles southwest of Fort Worth, the right-wing haters in Stephenville have turned this relatively unknown and rarely performed play into a must-produce phenomenon for any theater company or college group that wants to prove its independence and avant garde credentials.

A story on Christian Newswire says, ” The lewd production was recently canceled at Tarleton State University in Texas due to peaceful protest.”

By peaceful, I assume they mean the threats of violence that were phoned or emailed to everyone from the president of the school for not knowing every student’s homework assignment to Dallas Voice for reporting on the play.

I’m looking forward even more to bringing Otte and company to Dallas.

—  David Taffet

Early morning curtain time for controversial play for security

John Jordan Otte
John Jordan Otte

An excerpt from the gay-themed Terrence McNally play “Corpus Christi” will be presented at Tarleton State University at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 27.  The production, originally set for afternoon, has been rescheduled for security reasons, and only friends, family and invited guests will be admitted.

The controversy began several weeks ago when members of the community in Stephenville heard  gay student John Jordan Otte has chosen the play as a project for his directing class.

Local preachers denounced the play from the pulpit. Letters to the editor of The Stephenville Empire Tribune claimed blasphemy. Callers flooded the school administration with complaints. None of those who complained claimed to have ever actually seen or read the play.

Otte said that he chose “Corpus Christi” because of its theme of tolerance, and he called McNally a hero of his.

Although the time has changed, the play was always scheduled to be presented in the small 95-seat theater and was never advertised to the public.

The administration has defended the play’s presentation on free speech and academic freedom grounds.

—  David Taffet

Drama continues for Tarleton student

John Jordan Otte
John Jordan Otte

Since my story last week about Tarleton State University student John Jordan Otte directing an excerpt of the Terrence McNally play “Corpus Christi,” pressure has persisted to stop the production.

Letters to the editor of The Stephenville Empire Tribune have continued to spew hatred.

Several of the actors in the class project have been forced to leave the play.

Another, a freshman whose father is a Baptist minister in Stephenville, refused to quit the production and was thrown out of his house. Otte has taken in the student and given him a place to live.

This morning on KRLD, host Jodie Dean ambushed Otte, asking whether he chose the play just to provoke controversy. Otte said that he did not, and Dean challenged him on that.

The play was chosen as a class assignment and will be presented one time in a theater that holds just 95 people. The excerpt from the play will be shown along with three other 45-minute productions. While open to the public, the show wasn’t meant to be advertised or promoted. It was intended to be seen mostly by friends and family of the actors.

Instead, word got out about the play, and the controversy erupted. The president of the university has issued a statement defending Otte’s freedom of speech.

I’m sure Dean thought he was being very clever on his right-wing talkfest this morning. But Otte had no reason to believe that this project for his directing class would get any more public attention than homework for his math class.

—  David Taffet