Please read the article below, then add your voice to those protesting Saginaw Valley State’s use of our tax dollars to pay for a presentation that glorifies and promotes homosexual behavior and, according to the Saginaw News, features full-frontal male nudity.
Eric Gilbertson, President
Saginaw Valley State University
“Gary Glenn, president of the (Michigan) chapter of the national American Family Association, raised objections to the frontal nudity in ‘Angels in America.’ The play’s director, Richard Roberts, Jr., said that although it’s true there is nudity, there is nothing in the play, whether it be words or actions, that does not move the play in a necessary forward direction. …In a posting on MLive.com, Glenn called the nudity in the play ‘tax funded porn.’ …’The real issue for Gary Glenn is the homosexual theme of the play,’ said Roberts. …’but we’re just getting bad press now because of Gary Glenn’s postings on Mlive.com. …Saginaw Valley State University has gotten over 1,000, mostly negative, emails, although Roberts said he has received more supportive emails recently.”
BETWEEN THE LINES
April 26, 2007
Michigan far-right protests
Angels in America production
SVSU President responds
by Tana Michaels
SAGINAW — The play, Angels in America Part 1, opened at Saginaw Valley State University last Friday like any other play with one exception; there were police cars in the parking lot. My first thought was how nice it was that law officials would want to view an outstanding play. That, of course, was not the case. They were there because of controversy stirred by the subject matter of the play. The play deals with the emerging AIDS/HIV epidemic hitting the gay community in the 1980s.
Gary Glenn, president of the Midland chapter of the National American Family Association, raised objections to the frontal nudity in Angels in America. The play’s director, Richard Roberts, Jr., said that although it’s true there is nudity, there is nothing in the play, whether it be words or actions, that does not move the play in a necessary forward direction. Roberts says that while he supports Glenn’s right to say that he doesn’t agree with the play, he is spreading mistruths. “He hasn’t even read the play,” said Roberts. “He is saying that there’s female nudity, which there isn’t. That happens in Angels in America Part 2. But if we were showing Part 2, I’d be showing female nudity.”
“I’m surprised that the flak is coming from the nudity,” Roberts pondered. “I thought it would come from the black community, because we have a white actress playing a black man.”
In a posting on MLive.com, Glenn called the nudity in the play, “tax funded porn.” Roberts said that Glenn had simply gotten a tape of the TV series Angels in America and fast forwarded through it looking for parts that he found objectionable.
“The real issue for Gary Glenn is the homosexual theme of the play,” said Roberts. “But the themes are universal. All couples struggle and sometimes one partner leaves. The play shows the truth of humanity and human lifestyles shown through the eyes of a gay couple.”
Roberts has disagreements with some parts of the play as well, but remains true to the script. “The play is the most decorated play in history. It won its first Tony award in 1993 and several others thereafter. It’s a Pulitzer Prize winner. This is a sophisticated play that is usually done by fourth year students, because of its complexity and wordiness. Only 200 Universities in the country are tackling it. The play was written for eight people, but we had such strong auditions, that I opened up the cast to 14.
“The play has been on the schedule for a year and posters have been around for nine months, but we’re just getting bad press now because of Gary Glenn’s postings on Mlive.com,” said Roberts. Saginaw Valley State University has gotten over 1,000, mostly negative, emails, although Roberts said he has received more supportive emails recently.
The flood of emails caused SVSU’s President Gilbertson to write an open letter in which he states the university’s position regarding the play. He writes, “…part of any comprehensive range of performance art must also include pieces that may be more controversial, unnerving, occasionally even raw. Their experiences would be sheltered and incomplete without exposure to contemporary plays that raise troublesome questions – even in controversial ways.”
The police cars were there because of the threatened protest by Glenn, but so far the big, bad wolf who threatened to blow the playhouse down seems to be full of hot air.