Monday, 4 July 2011

Growing Opera North Outrage

I first learnt of this story via outraged tweets last night. The Guardian reports that Opera North's plans for the opera, Beached was cancelled. According to the Guardian, the writer and playwright Lee Hall, who wrote the libretto, said he was asked by Opera North to remove explicit references to the sexuality of one character. He refused.

The demand to cut the references came from the primary school, which had nearly 300 children involved. The school felt it was age-inappropriate for a production involving children aged from four to 11.

The story goes on to state that: 'the central problem is a scene – which does not involve any children – when the main character is confronted by a group of lads. He reveals: "Of course I'm queer/That's why I left here/So if you infer/That I prefer/A lad to a lass/ And I'm working class/ I'd have to concur."'

The unwillingness of the local authority to enter into discussions is depressing and I suspect as this story gathers momentum, they will suddenly become more communicative (if they haven't already).

The story will serve to remind many of the days that Section 28 did so much to limit the arts for fear of 'promoting' homosexuality. It is unsurprising that Hall and many readers will therefore find this set of developments seems to hark back to an earlier age of state-enshrined homophobia. Section 28 has gone, and with it should have gone the fear and homophobia that characterised many schools and local authorities in dealing with the subject of sexuality.

I hope that the project goes ahead, and another school(s) come forward with more informed and open approach to education.

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