Venue Cancels Anti-Censorship Benefit Due Over LaBute Mohammed Play; Playwright Responds

News   Venue Cancels Anti-Censorship Benefit Due Over LaBute Mohammed Play; Playwright Responds
 
The downtown Sheen Center has canceled the scheduled benefit event Playwrights For A Cause, an evening of panel discussions and plays by acclaimed playwrights Neil LaBute, Halley Feiffer, Israel Horovitz and Erik Ehn.

According to a press statement from the benefit, the venue has made the decision that some of the speeches slated for the panel, along with LaBute’s play Mohammed Gets A Boner, are not acceptable.

Originally scheduled for June 14, the panel of speakers was scheduled to include Cecilia Copeland, speaking on the censorship of women in the arts; Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin, speaking on the censorship of environmentalists and climate scientists; Michael Hagins, speaking on the censorship & underrepresentation of minorities in the arts; and Mark Jason Williams, speaking on the censorship of LGBT artists.

"It's hard to imagine a more ironic outcome: a venue attempts to alter, edit and censor the works that are being performed at an anti-censorship event. And when the artists won't compromise their vision, the venue cancels the show," said Joan Berlin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, in a press statement.

"The management of The Sheen Center actually suggested that we alter the title of Neil LaBute’s play, and alter the content of some of our panelist’s speeches," added artistic curator Glory Kadigan. "Which we find completely out of line with the anti-censorship mission of the benefit."

LaBute issued a statement that included the following: "by design, this event was meant to shine another light on censorship and it was unexpected to have the plug pulled, quite literally, by an organization that touts the phrase 'for thought and culture' on their very website. both in life and in the arts, this is not a time to hide or be afraid; recent events have begged for artists and citizens to stand and be counted and i sincerely hope that we will find a space that helps us do just that."

The event is currently seeking a new venue. Any event space interested in hosting the benefit should contact Planet Connections by visiting planetconnections.org.

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