says no to gay-themed Civic Players show
By BERL SCHWARTZ
The Catholic Diocese of Lansing has withdrawn permission for the Lansing
Civic Players to stage a gay-themed play at Catholic Central High School
The diocese objects to the subject matter, theme and content
of Breaking the Code, Michael Diebold, director of communications
for the diocese, said. Diebold also said that the diocese objected to
the plays sponsorship by the Michigan Triangle Foundation,
a Detroit-based gay-rights organization.
Breaking the Code is the story of Alan Turing, a British-born
mathematician who broke Nazi codes during World War II. Turing was a
closeted homosexual who was convicted on morals charges in 1952. He
killed himself two years later, when he was 41. The play, written by
Hugh Whitemore, was nominated for three Tony awards in 1988.
Beverly Gross, president of the Civic Players board of directors,
had no comment
of 12 photos of Jesus in the company of homosexuals that make
up Ecce Homo, by Swedish photographer Elizabeth Olhson.
Their showing at Stockholms Uppsala Cathedral caused an
uproar in the Vatican.
dioceses reasons. She said the group was looking into options
for staging the play, which was scheduled to open Jan. 18.
Tom (T.E.) Klunzinger, an actor, director and playwright active in the
Civic Players, said he understood somebody objected to the diocese
about the production.
The season brochure has been out for six months now, Klunzinger
said. The capsule description (of Breaking the Code)
has the h word homosexual in it.
the decision inconsiderate and mean-spirited
space is very tight.
Diebold defended the churchs decision as standing up for
our beliefs and values.
He referred to the Civic Players as a guest. However, Klunzinger
and others said the theatrical organization has a contract with Catholic
Central and pays rent to it when productions are staged there.
Diebold said the diocese was just made aware of the issue
Wednesday (Dec. 19). The Civic Players was informed of the decision
two days later.
Diebold said adult language and content issues in the play
also raised concerns for the diocese since the venue is a high school.
However, other Civic Players productions at Catholic Central have contained
adult language and content, such as Emmas Child, by
Kristine Thatcher, which was staged there several years ago.
Another issue was the involvement of the Michigan Triangle Foundation.
Diebold said the diocese objected to the organizations sponsorship
of the play because the organization advocates positions contrary
to the teaching of Catholic theology.
According to Jeff Montgomery, executive director of Triangle, the organization
was not a sponsor. He said Triangle was set to sell tickets for the
dress rehearsal as a fund-raiser for itself.
The last thing we ever want to do is bring a negative consequence
on a group that aligns itself with us, Montgomery said.
He encouraged the Civic Players to look elsewhere for a venue for its
productions, most of which have been staged at Catholic Central in recent
I hope someone from the Civic Players realizes this is not going
to be a one-time problem and should begin to look for other venues so
it wont have to worry about Mother Church, he said.
Montgomery said the decision continues to show how out of touch,
mean-spirited and in denial the church is.
Its so typical of the Catholic Church to have this kind
of uninformed and unfortunate reaction. If theyre worried about
the theme of the play, I guess what they must be worried about is the
story of a hero and a patriot, he added. I guess Im
a little bit surprised that this is the vehicle they choose to use in
this way. Its an incredible story they should want to be associated
with. I dont want to be too coy about this and presume to say
that I know their entire thinking. The obvious thinking must be that
Turing was a closet homosexual and after his estimable service to government,
he found himself facing morals charges.
It doesnt surprise me that it would be skittish about presenting
a unsympathetic view of state-sponsored harassment of gay people. Perhaps
that aspect of this story hits too close to home for them.
In addition to finding another venue for this production, Lansing Civic
Players will also have to decide whether continuing to stage plays at
Catholic Central may result in an adverse reaction from the gay community.