Another Setback for “Gay Jesus” Play
Fort Worth’s Rose Marine Theater, which earlier this week had offered Tarleton State University students a place to put on their canceled play involving a gay Jesus, rescinded that offer on Thursday, according to a posting on the theater’s web site.
According to theater officials, the Rose Marine board of directors discussed the issue all morning on Thursday, and reached the decision Thursday afternoon.
The play, Corpus Christi, written by Texan Terrence McNally, was to have been put on by theater students at the Stephenville college in late March. But after Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and others raised a public uproar about the play’s subject matter and its just-before-Easter timing, the production was canceled there. The Tarleton drama professor said the decision was made due to safety concerns. John Jordan Otte, the student who was to direct the play, has told reporters that he believes his professor, Mark Holtorf, was pressured to cancel the play, even though the campus president has denied that that happened.
Then on Wednesday, several publications reported that the Rose Marine, on North Main Street in Fort Worth, had agreed to provide a venue for the play. The Dallas Morning News quoted Rose Marine executive director Adam Adolfo as saying that the production would be staged there, free of charge, to give the Tarleton students “a place that is safe and supportive.” It was to have been presented in May, after the spring college semester was over.
That statement was followed today by a posting on the Rose Marine site that said “The decision was reached by the Board of Directors of Artes de la Rosa to withdraw the offer of the venue, The Rose Marine Theater, which had hoped to host the four theatre student directors from Tarleton State University in their continued Academic Directing Theatre Projects. The Rose Marine Theater will not be hosting these four students and their casts at any time in the future. We appreciate the public response on both sides of this debated issue.”
Mark Alcala, producing director at the Rose Marine, said the board did not provide exact reasons for its decision.
“We’ve been getting calls both in support of plays being presented and calls opposed to it,” he said. “The e-mails have been mixed as well.”
Adolfo said the theater received one threat regarding the Corpus Christi production.
“Speaking as artist, not as the exec director but on a personal note, I will say I am disappointed,” he said. “Arts education is something I feel very passionate about.” And for the Tarleton students not to be allowed to finish their classroom assignments by producing their plays, he said, “was a disservice to their arts education.”
He said the theater staff did not believe the threat that was received was credible. Asked whether the board decision was based on safety concerns, Adolfo said it was “based on a lot of variables.”
“I am very proud of Fort Worth patrons who voiced their pride and eagerness to support the students,” he said, noting that the theater received roughly equivalent amounts of support and opposition to the idea of presenting the play.