Nova Scotia Theatre Edits SHREK After Complaint About Transgender Slur
Jeanine Tesori and David Lindsay-Abaire's 2008 Broadway musical based on William Steig's SHREK and its DreamWorks Animation motion picture adaptation, pushed a theme of compassion and acceptance for those who others would call freaks. Its rousing 11 o'clock number encouraged audience members to "Let Your Freak Flag Fly."
However, Halifax, Nova Scotia's Neptune Theatre recently edited some of the text out of their current production after a complaint from a transgender audience member.
The storybook characters that inhabit SHREK's plot include the Big Bad Wolf, who, as played by actor Charles Douglas, wears an orange dress. (see photo) Other characters refer to him with a slur aimed at transgender people.
"That word was dropped and it's used as violence against trans-women specifically," complainant Ky Grey tells the National Post. "But just in general it brings up a lot of bad emotions and feelings of transphobia in me and the community."
Grey says he stayed until intermission and then left the theatre.
"Just the idea that this character who was supposed to be a man dressing in a dress and how funny that was, hearing kids laugh about it - it was all very overwhelming."
He eventually scheduled a meeting with Neptune's general manager Amy Melmock to discuss his concerns.
"We were upset to learn that one of our productions created a feeling of distress among members of the LGBTQ community in Halifax and a change was immediately made to remove the offending word," states an email from Neptune Theatre's director of sales and marketing, Jennie King.
The word has been replaced with "hairy."
"I understand that they have limits to what they can change based on the rights that they do or do not have to the show," says Grey, who believes the issue goes beyond artistic license when there is an impact on people affected by what's portrayed.
"The message they have tried to portray about acceptance came across as mockery not just to me, but to other transgender people who attended."