Censorship Or Protection - Was Boston Children's Theatre's Nude Scene Appropriate?

Censorship Or Protection - Was Boston Children's Theatre's Nude Scene Appropriate?

According to artsintegrity.org, Howard Sherman writes that there has been an uproar surrounding a recent production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest at Boston Children's Theatre. This debate has centered around one nude scene, which reportedly takes up "less than one page of the acting edition script." However, the ramifications of this acting and directorial decision have been much bigger than that.

Executive artistic director Burgess Clark has informed the press that he is on layoff, as an alternative to resigning, after this dilemma that he believes is censorship on behalf of the board. The issue in question is a nude scene performed by a 21 year old actor, who also allegedly suggested the scene take place.

While the actor performing the scene is above the age of consent, many of the other actors in this children's theatre company are not, but they reportedly received parental permission to take part in this production and scene after the nudity was decided upon.

The scene was not originally written in the nude in the original script, and in fact was not decided upon until the show was in tecH. Clark said that during the first rehearsal, the 21 year old male actor had suggested the scene be done in the nude, and five weeks later they decided to give it a try.

"It played beautifully," Clark said. "The cast had become so comfortable with one another by that point that it was pretty casual and had just the right tone."

During the first two public performances, as well as the student performances, the actor wore boxer shorts. The nudity was introduced during the third public performance and remained in place for the rest of the show's run.

A week into the run, two board members contacted Toby Schine, the executive director of BCT, to discuss the nudity. While the exact communications are unclear, some have described it as "demands from the board members to cut the nude scene" while others say it was just "a concern about the process."

Beyond it being a children's theatre company, one concern was that ticket-buyers were not made aware of the nudity upon their purchase. There were signs in the lobby before the show, but the ticket website reportedly online mentioned some harsh language and themes as its warnings.

Aside from this, concerns arose that there was not ample communication between members of the organization, namely Clark and the board.

Clark claims that he had concerns that the show would be able to go on.

"After daily harassment from these board members, who were acting completely without authority, I made my plan to resign," Clark said. "My board president and my executive producer collectively offered the alternative of being temporarily laid off rather than have me resign, until they could present a united front from the board."

It has been reported that the staff has gone on strike in support of Clark, and Schine, while he did not strike, says that he hopes to move past this challenge and get the company back on its feet again.

Check out the full article here.

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From This Author Stephanie Wild

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