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Encore Theatre Magazine
::Front Page::

:: Monday, September 04, 2006 ::

God, Theatre and Match-Fixing

Stephen Green (pictured) is the head of Christian Voice, the organisation who largely failed to get Jerry Springer barred from regional theatres across the land. His arguments were non-existent, as you can see from the disgraceful letter that he sent to regional theatres last March. What does he say?

Having seen [Jerry Springer: The Opera], I can say with some feeling that the show is crude, offensive and blasphemous in the extreme. At the very least, it is not a family show and will damage the reputation of any theatre which puts it on.

The first sentence is an assertion without evidence, beefed up only by an appeal to emotion. The second is a non sequitur (I can think of several theatres whose reputations would be damaged by putting on a family show). On this firm foundation, Green darkly reported his 'success' in London and demanded to know whether the theatre managers were planning to host Jerry Springer. Sadly, some theatres did respond to the intimidation: basically, the threat that lots of ghastly Christian nutjobs would be standing outside their theatre bothering paying customers. But only some: some of the responses like that of national treasure Gwenda Hughes of the New Victoria Theatre, Stoke on Trent, were much better:

For the attention of Stephen Green


I have received your letter concerning JERRY SPRINGER, THE OPERA.

Future programming is a confidential matter between employees and our Trustees until a season is announced and our brochure distributed. Details of our current season are available on our website. Should you wish to receive our brochure, published three times a year, please ring the Box Office number and we will put you on our mailing list.

It is my responsibility to decide what plays, concerts and events are programmed at this theatre, subject to ratification by the Trustees.

I will continue to programme as I see fit and appropriate for the organisation. Neither I, nor the Trustees, will change the programme or the programming policy as a result of threats, bullying or intimidation from any outside body.

I hope this makes the situation quite clear.

Yours faithfully,

Gwenda Hughes
Of course, all that fuss was a long time ago. But he's still around, and it might interest Encore's readers to get a glimpse of some of the things he's been saying since the tour ended.

Responding to Hurricane Katrina, he observed that New Orleans was due to host the 'Southern Decadence' event, an annual lesbian and gay culture and arts festival. He argued:

Most would say a hurricane is an 'Act of God'. Hurricanes are named by a
system of rotating boy/girl/boy/girl names after the letters of the alphabet. By one of those co-incidences which only Almighty God can manufacture, the name 'Katrina' means 'purity'. A version of the name 'Catherine', it comes from the same root as a 'cathartic' or 'purifying' experience. Purity blew into New Orleans and purity broke the levees and flooded the city. When a hurricane has been particularly devastating, the name is retired. There will never be another 'Katrina' and that may mean that New Orleans may only have this single opportunity to respond to the awesome purity of God. God often gives only one warning.

Unfortunately for this ambulance-chasing halfwit, the French Quarter, the centre of the festival and site for the festival's climactic parade, was the least affected by the disaster. The burden of the press release is that, by finding the strength to continue with the festival, even though scaled down and elsewhere, these survivors of a natural disaster were showing great disrespect for the dead. As someone once said, let he who is without sin, Stephen, cast the first stone. Or put another way, shut the fuck up, you stupid hypocrite.

All of this is based on some very selective Biblical citations. No doubt even more fiendish is the exegesis that entitles Christian Voice to rail against plans for road-pricing, not a topic that casual readers will have noticed Jesus making much of. He's on more conventional ground when he reports on the prayer vigils that attended the first civil partnerships, noting, strangely, that
Ordinary people would be revolted by the sight of two men or two women kissing in a parody of a marital embrace
Intriguing. Encore is not quite sure what a 'parody of a marital embrace' looks like. Is it mouth-closed, both partners looking away and wanting to get it over with? Perhaps Stephen Green and John Beyer, Mary Whitehouse's successor as head of the National Viewers and Listeners Association, now rebranded Mediawatch, could demonstrate?

Last week, though, Stephen Green really ramped up the hilarious craziness of his proclamations. Watching the recent Cricket Test between England and Pakistan, Green was disturbed at what he calls 'the way in which Pakistan were giving it large about Islam'. (What this means is members of the team talking about their Islamic faith. The swines!) So he did what any normal, ordinary, right-thinking Christian loo-lah would do. He prayed. Oh lord - we imagine it went - smite down these infidels, bringing their false religion into this Christian country. And lo, the Lord, according to Green, did indeed smite them down, with 'the sort of unexpected event which only Almighty God can bring about'. Getting Darrell Hair to detect ball-tampering by the Pakistan bowlers. Man, that really is moving in a mysterious way.

What God is saying, says Green confidently, is that 'if we Christians place all our trust in Him, show Him our prayer is serious by doing the simple and obvious things which only we can do, we can safely leave the miraculous to Him. God will never fail to surprise us'.

The utter, utter fuckwit.

Oh yes, it's very easy to mock, isn't it? But I've been asking Almighty God to afflict Stephen Green with seething, pullulating piles for years now and He hasn't let me down.
I draw your attention to the Stewart Lee 'In Defence of Blasphemy' polemic, which is on Channel 5 tomorrow at 7:15 PM. Should be entertaining.
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