State lawmaker opposes staging of 'The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told'

Rep. Dan Fisher, R-Yukon, says a play being staged in Oklahoma City that satirizes biblical stories — employing homosexual relationships and nudity in the telling — is a “direct frontal attack” on Christians.
by William Crum Modified: October 4, 2013 at 9:25 pm •  Published: October 4, 2013

The play's biblical satire is, like satire in any setting, “a what-if kind of a spin” on the underlying story, Irick said.

Rudnick's works include “Jeffrey,” a 1993 play about living in the shadow of AIDS. Frank Rich wrote that year in the Times that the playwright was “a born showbiz wit with perfect pitch for priceless one-liners.”

OKCTC is a resident company at the taxpayer-funded Civic Center. Its sponsors include the Kirkpatrick Foundation and the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Executive Director Amber Sharples said the Arts Council reviewed the script for “Most Fabulous Story” and decided not to support it because of its content.

State law forbids the Arts Council from supporting productions that include simulated sex acts, she said, and the script for “Most Fabulous Story” includes such scenes.

Oklahoma City Theatre Company asked the Arts Council for $70,775 to support the six productions in its 2013-14 season.

Funding request reduced

The Arts Council granted OKCTC $18,000 to support the five productions besides “Most Fabulous Story.” They include “In the Heat of the Night” and an annual Native American New Play Festival.

Jim Couch, Oklahoma City's city manager, said Friday the city cannot pick and choose among groups that contract to use city facilities, such as the Civic Center theaters, based on the content of their productions, as long as it is legal.

Some 300,000 patrons attend events each year at the Civic Center, from Broadway shows like the current musical “Godspell” to ballet and weddings, said Jennifer Lindsey-McClintock, a spokeswoman for the city's Parks Department.

Oklahoma City-area playgoers have seen Rudnick's comedies in the past, including “I Hate Hamlet” at Jewel Box Theatre in 2010 and “Jeffrey” at OU in 1997.

Oklahoma City University's OCUedge staged a dramatic reading, rather than a full production, of “Most Fabulous Story” in 2011, said D. Lance Marsh, associate professor in the Theatre School.

Standards

Fisher said community standards should govern whether city officials allow OKCTC to produce the play. Oklahoma City is primarily a Christian community and residents live by Christian moral values, the Yukon pastor said.

“For some reason it's OK to demean and besmirch the name of Christ and the faith of Christians,” Fisher said.

Irick, the OKCTC artistic director, said she was “grateful that we live in a free country where our freedom of expression is protected under the law.”

“Everyone in our community regardless of lifestyle or religious belief should have an opportunity to be represented,” she said.

by William Crum
Reporter
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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If we are to realize all that Oklahoma City can become, we must do so with a constant eye toward diversity and inclusivity.”

Scott Hamilton

,
executive director of the Cimarron Alliance

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