Performing arts charter school asks police help with security at controversial play
A students from The Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School rehearses a scene from The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, Friday, March 8, 2013 in South Hadley. The play, written by Paul Rudnick, is a gay-positive comedy that skewers stereotypes while exploring questions of family and faith. SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »
SOUTH HADLEY — The Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Public Charter School is responding to mountains of mail about a student play that critics call “blasphemous” by increasing security for the performances and holding student discussions about the debate.
In a letter sent to school parents and guardians Friday, Principal Scott Goldman wrote that the school has “been in touch with the Northampton Police Department to develop a safety plan” for productions of the controversial show at the Academy of Music. He wrote that he would also contact the South Hadley Police Department about the emails that PVPA has received criticizing the play, although none of the emails to the school have contained any threats of violence.
The Northampton Police Department declined to comment on what security measures might be taken.
“The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” which was written by Paul Rudnick and opened to critical praise in 1998, is a satirical retelling of the Book of Genesis with gay characters. It will run March 15, 16 and 17 at the Academy of Music in Northampton.
The executive director of the Academy of Music, Debra J’Anthony, said the theater will have a full staff and many volunteers working for the show. The theater received close to 4,000 emails from people objecting to the play at the start of the week. Since Wednesday, when the school announced it will produce the play despite the opposition, J’Anthony said the theater has heard from many people who plan to attend. “We’re getting an outpouring of support,” she said.
The school will be using the play and the anger it has inspired as an opportunity for a schoolwide discussion, Goldman wrote in his letter to parents.
In a statement, Goldman wrote that he is grateful “to be living in a time and place when we can produce such a play, and people can protest it, and everyone can express our opinions openly.”