College cancels ADDING MACHINE musical for being too "disturbing"

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Mr. Nowack
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A local college here in Pittsburgh recently canceled their production of ADDING MACHINE the musical because of outrage that the piece was too "disturbing." I was intrigued to see something a little different and unusual among the endless Into the Woods and Drowsy Chaperone productions, but the masses spoke and it was canned.

I'm not really that familiar with the piece but does anyone else have issues with it? Is it actually worth this kind of backlash or is it a case of overreaction?

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Updated On: 11/30/19 at 12:25 AM
GroupAGroup1
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First of all: Excellent clickbait! 

"College cancels ADDING MACHINE musical for being too" TOO WHAT CLICK PLEASE

Second:

(SIGH)

"College cancels ADDING MACHINE musical for being Art"

GroupAGroup1
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Yes, it's extremely dark; yes, the score is harsh and visceral; yes, it says some very sad things about human nature... but for goodness sake, it's an artistic statement! And a brilliant one at that, which viscerally connects you with the humanity of the characters! 

Also, it's not like it's Sarah Kane! No one's getting their eyeballs sucked out in ADDING MACHINE! These folks seem to be afraid of something that really grabs you by the throat, and they're not going to get a lot of art if they throw out that concept for being "too disturbing."

Updated On: 11/30/19 at 12:42 AM
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The Distinctive Baritone
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Ridiculous. I saw the original and there is nothing offensive in this show. The lead character is not a nice guy, and it’s dark and strange, but a 200 person town hall and subsequent cancellation is a laughable over-reaction.
Alex Kulak2
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There are a number of racial slurs in the show, so I could kind of understand if a school didn't want to do a show with that kind of language, but a school cancelling a show because it scares them is just stupid.

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PARADE is on their season bill. Park Point better cancel it ASAP.

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Alex Kulak2 said: "There are a number of racial slurs in the show,so I could kind of understand if a school didn't want to do a show with that kind of language, but a school cancelling a show because it scares them is just stupid."

I thought that could be the reason - there’s like one or two lines where Mr. Zero complains about “the Jews,” but...again, he’s not supposed to be a good guy. He’s a racist murderer. If Park Point is also doing Parade in the same season this makes them look even sillier.

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Just makes me want to find out more about this musical.
saxpower
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Based on the article below, it looks like the cast and other participants actually became uncomfortable with the piece.  One could say they should still be willing to present shows that "challenge" the audience, but this is a better situation than the college cancelling it because the administration objected.

Even if it was just the administration, it looks like this is a private college which relies at least in part on subscriptions to finance its shows.  Presumably it also relies on alumni and other contributions.  For right or wrong, the college has to keep this fact in mind when presenting shows- if a show is going to negatively affect subscriptions/donations, this fact has to be considered.   Even at this level, theater is a business.  I'm not saying that's a good thing, but its reality,. 

 

 

https://www.broadwayworld.com/pittsburgh/article/Production-Of-ADDING-MACHINE-Canceled-By-Pittsburgh-Playhouse-At-Point-Park-University-For-Being-Disturbing-20191130#:~:targetText=The%20Pittsburgh%20Playhouse%20at%20Point,up%20call%20to%20its%20audience.

A Director
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This is a story from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

https://www.post-gazette.com/ae/theater-dance/2019/11/22/Point-Park-cancels-musical-dstudent-concerns-racist-content-university-Pittsburgh/stories/201911220144

This is the story from the Point Park newspaper.  http://ppuglobe.com/2019/11/dean-of-copa-cancels-show-adding-machine/
 

Updated On: 11/30/19 at 01:58 PM
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A student production of "The Foreigner" was cancelled one week before opening at Washington College on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Appropriate?

http://elm.washcoll.edu/index.php/2019/11/the-foreigner-senior-thesis-canceled-by-washington-college/

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This show is weird and dark, yes, but how many times do people want to see the same, safe shows? Snoooze. 

Why not cancel the revival of West Side Story and give The Music Man the beauty that is The Broadway. Hugh Jackman and Sutton Foster are worth more than a sexual predator and a bullshit revival.
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I'm only just now discovering this show. It almost sounds like an episode of the Twilight Zone and I'm kind of digging it.

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A Director said: "This is a story from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

https://www.post-gazette.com/ae/theater-dance/2019/11/22/Point-Park-cancels-musical-dstudent-concerns-racist-content-university-Pittsburgh/stories/201911220144

This is the story from the Point Park newspaper. http://ppuglobe.com/2019/11/dean-of-copa-cancels-show-adding-machine/

"
 

This is so ludicrous it reads like an Onion article. Now they want to cancel Parade too? They get that the whole point of the show is to demonstrate how racism and anti-Semitism is bad, right?

Note to the high schoolers who read this board: if you choose to attend Point Park University, NO TRIGGER WARNINGS WILL BE ISSUED. NONE. You’ve been warned!

 

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uncageg
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What keeps coming back to my mind is that the students were uncomfortable with it. (I am assuming these were the Performing Arts Conservatory students.) In my mind, they are acting students and should be willing to tackle the material. 

With that said, I do know some actors, who have been around for a bit, who will not do shows based on some personal beliefs.

 

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So exactly why are these kids pursuing a degree in theatre if they're unwilling to be challenged to confront things that make them even slightly uncomfortable? I mean, I'm not passing judgment here on anyone for being disturbed by something and not wanting to do it. But what exactly do they think they're going to be able to make a career out of if Adding Machine and Parade are too disturbing to be a part of? Sorry, but that should be a clear sign you've picked the wrong profession.
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Broadway61004 said: "So exactly why are these kids pursuing a degree in theatre if they're unwilling to be challenged to confront things that make them even slightly uncomfortable? I mean, I'm not passing judgment here on anyone for being disturbed by something and not wanting to do it. But what exactly do they think they're going to be able to make a career out of if Adding Machine and Parade are too disturbing to be a part of? Sorry, but that should be a clear sign you've picked the wrong profession."

 

Thank you. That is my thought too.

 

Just give the world Love.
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persephone88 said: "A student production of "The Foreigner" was cancelled one week before opening at Washington College on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Appropriate?

http://elm.washcoll.edu/index.php/2019/11/the-foreigner-senior-thesis-canceled-by-washington-college/
"

I go to Illinois State University, and we also cancelled a production of The Foreigner. It would have been directed by the head of the Acting Department, and she chose to cancel it. It was Fall 2017, immediately after the Charlottesville Riots, so I can't blame her for wanting to avoid controversy. We did A Lie of The Mind instead.

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uncageg said: "Broadway61004 said: "So exactly why are these kids pursuing a degree in theatre if they're unwilling to be challenged to confront things that make them even slightly uncomfortable? I mean, I'm not passing judgment here on anyone for being disturbed by something and not wanting to do it. But what exactly do they think they're going to be able to make a career out of if Adding Machine and Parade are too disturbing to be a part of? Sorry, but that should be a clear sign you've picked the wrong profession."



Thank you. That is my thought too.


"

...and mine as well.

Sooooo... You HS students pursuing theater as a career: After this example of the learning/artistic environment @ Point Park University, where does Point Park fall on your list of prospective universities you'd want to attend?

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As a high school drama teacher, this whole thing really astounds me, and frankly makes me really angry and concerned, but after thinking about it, there’s this important thing to remember: these kids were in high school during the rise of Trumpism. As young people who barely new life before the US turned into a political dumpster fire, their entire world view has likely been colored by the craziness that’s been going on for the past five years. I can’t wait until he’s out of office and extremism on both the right and left dies down a bit.
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I wish there were more details regarding exactly what was found so “disturbing?” Some of the students seemed to sight the language and the use of racial slurs but not the whole “guy murders his boss” thing. That wasn’t the disturbing part?

Updated On: 12/1/19 at 12:13 PM
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I haven’t seen the show in ten years, but based on my memory of that as well as the last time I listened to the cast recording, Mr. Zero says (I think) the N-word and talks negatively about “the Jews.” I don’t remember any anti-gay slurs, although I think the character of Shirdlu (sp?) is implied to be gay?

Guess they can’t do Ragtime either, since they seem to think that depicting racism is the same thing as supporting it. Ugh.

If these students aren’t willing to do a show as tame as Adding Machine or Parade, they are going to be limiting themselves a good deal in their careers, as well as depriving themselves of some great acting opportunities that also deal important social issues through theater and film.
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I went to HS and College in Alabama and my high school did the original Adding Machine Play back in 2005. And my college regularly did works by Suzan Lori-Parks, Lynn Nottage, etc. So it's so funny to me, coming from the epicenter of "conservative America," and seeing these seemingly progress schools cancel shows. It's art. It should make people uncomfortable. It should make you question things. 

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uncageg said: "...With that said, I do know some actors, who have been around for a bit, who will not do shows based on some personal beliefs.

"

One of my students at a very well-known university theater department told me his dream was to found a theater that would only do plays where the language and characters conformed to "Christian principles".

"Good luck with that," I replied, turning my head to conceal my laughter. He was a smart kid who understood why I was amused, which only made me wonder all the more at his "dream".

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(Duplicate post--wish we had a "delete post" option.)

Updated On: 12/2/19 at 12:03 AM