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Boston College And Controversial Theatre

In honor of Kingdom City we're going to be taking a walk through the most scandalous theater productions throughout history and how BC took them on!

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Lysistrata (411 BCE)

Written as an anti-war statement against the Peloponnesian War, Aristophanes' play tells the story of a woman who instigates a sex strike. She works to get a team of women on board, withholding sex from all the men until they agree to negotiate peace. While the show was not intended to be a feminist statement, modern adaptions have encouraged this interpretation. This show still has the ability to elicit the same level of protest and outrage today that it did in 411 BCE. Boston College Theatre Department performed this in 2011!

Tartuffe (1664)

This classical comedy shows the effects a pious fraud, Tartuffe, has on a well to do family. Tartuffe claims to speak with divine authority when, in reality, he is nothing more than a criminal and con man. The show faced opposition from the French Roman Catholic Church and the archbishop of Paris even threatened to excommunicate anyone who watched, read, or performed in the play! BC Theatre performed Tartuffe in 1996.

The Children's Hour (1934)

This play demonstrates the destruction a lie can cause when a young girl starts a rumor that the headmistresses of her boarding school are lovers. It was banned in Boston in 1935 for the "indecency" of including lesbian themes in a play. Lillian Hellman, the playwright, also generated controversy as a far-left activist and was blacklisted as a possible pro-Stalinist during the McCarthy era. Boston College presented this show in 1995.

The Crucible (1953)

Taking place during the witch trials of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Arthur Miller's The Crucible caused controversy due to its commentary on the phenomenon of McCarthyism. The political messaging as well as themes of adultery, the occult, and religious undertones has caused this play to be banned in many schools across the country (including the high school in Kingdom City)! BC performed this show in 2008.

Jesus Christ Superstar (1970)

This rock opera chronicles the last week of Jesus' life loosely based on the gospels. It draws attention to the tumultuous relationship between Jesus and Judas Iscariot. Many religious groups condemned this show for attempting to psychologically analyze the action so Jesus and for showing Judas as a tragic character as opposed to a traitor. The show depicts Jesus not as God, but as simply someone at the right time and place. Jewish communities claimed the show to be antisemitic for proliferating the idea that the Jewish community were to blame for the death of Jesus as most of the villains were Jewish. It was banned in South Africa and Hungary. Boston College presented this show in 2002.

Equus (1973)

Equus follows the psychological journey of a deeply disturbed teenager who blinded six horses. Alan is deeply interested in the violent aspects of the Bible, especially the crucifixion. He developed a deeply sexual and religious attraction to horses. In one scene, two characters are naked on stage. Because of the sexualization of religion and the nudity, the show has been banned from reading and performance at many high schools, colleges, and local theater companies. BC performed Equus in 1991.

We Won't Pay! We Won't Pay! (1974)

This Marxist political farce comments on the plagues of consumerism and the struggles of rising prices. Dario Fo was banned from coming to America in 1983 because of his far left leanings. Fo filed a lawsuit against the US State Department, pledging to give all damages to those hurt by the capitalist machine. Boston College performed his show in 2006.

Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes Part I: Millennium Approaches (1993)

This Pulitzer Prize winning play examines the culture of homosexuality in America and the AIDS epidemic. It uses extensive symbolism, metaphors, and dream sequences to demonstrate the struggles of living as a gay man in the 1980s. Because of the themes and brief male nudity, many conservative and religious groups spoke out against the show. A production in North Carolina spurred many protests and caused funding cuts to the Arts and Science Council of Charlotte. Boston College performed this show in 2008.

Avenue Q (2003)

Written as a satirical analysis of adulthood and coming of age, this off-beat comedy is in the top 30 longest running productions on Broadway. The show juxtaposes adult themes with child-like imagery reminiscent of Sesame Street. This show has sparked controversy all over: from Colorado ads being banned for showing puppet cleavage, to high schools canceling the censored version of the show, because it wasn't censored quite enough. BC produced this show in 2013.

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