Sunday, May 25, 2003

Protests already scheduled for 'Corpus Christi'

By Jackie Demaline
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Be prepared to run a gauntlet of silent protest for the opening weekend of performances of provocative Corpus Christi, which will have its regional premiere June 12-28 at Know Theatre Tribe at Gabriel's Corner in Over-the-Rhine.

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property's America Needs Fatima charges that the play, a parable that parallels the New Testament with gay Joshua standing in for Jesus, is blasphemy.

Fatima, which has been protesting productions of the play across the United States ever since its New York debut in November 1998, has announced a "Rally of Reparation," 5-7 p.m. June 12-14 at the theater prior to the nightly 8 p.m. curtain.

An organized postcard campaign started months ago. A second wave began in early May. Most cards carry postmarks from outside our region.

The latest mailing, preprinted with a line for a personal signature, is addressed to Mayor Charles Luken and also is being sent to The Cincinnati Enquirer. It begins: "I was very hurt to know that the 'homosexual Jesus play' Corpus Christi is scheduled to show at Know Theater ... I'm concerned this will harm Cincinnati's good reputation."

Know Tribe managing director Lisa Urriquia says that Know likes to raise issues that need to be discussed. "They have a right to protest, and we have the right to put on the play," says Know executive director Jay Kalagayan.

The ongoing protest against Corpus Christi has been effective in moving productions off college campuses that receive public funding, but not in stopping productions.

Its playwright is Terrence McNally, the well-regarded author of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class.

Reviews were mixed on Corpus Christi's New York opening, but many critics applauded its intentions. Daily Variety wrote, "Corpus Christi imagines the coming of a second messiah...References to contemporary gay culture collide with talk of Roman Centurions. The apostles spread the Gospel by day, disco down at night. ... Yet the essential truth at the heart of the play cannot be dismissed. If today a gay man arrived bearing the same gifts Christ brought to the world, his journey might end just as terribly."

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