The Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School (PVPA) in South Hadley, Massachusetts describes itself as “A public school dedicated to academic and artistic excellence” and includes grades 7-12.
How bad is the play?
The school is performing the play, “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,” by Paul Rudnick. It’s billed as a “comedy.” But it’s described by many as “blasphemous and hateful.” The play retells stories from the Bible using homosexual characters in a pornographic and mocking fashion.
The play begins with a retelling of Genesis using a homosexual couple, Adam and Steve, instead of Adam and Eve, along with other homosexual characters who are are very sexually explicit in their speech and actions. As one review puts it, this re-telling of Genesis “gets so specific as to be a gay how-to sexbook.”
It includes a depiction of Steve having a sexual relationship with an animal during the Noah’s Ark scene. After several other hideous defamations of Bible stories, the first act ends with Adam and Steve being two of the wise men at the Nativity. The second scene appears to be a modern-day depiction of the birth of Jesus in a New York apartment with the “wise man” Steve now being HIV-positive and the pregnant Mary being a lesbian who (among other things) exclaims: “I’m not supposed to be pregnant, I’m a bulldyke!”
All of this is apparently considered to be quite hilarious by the school administration. The school’s website describes the play as “cheeky, raucously funny, surprisingly tender and ultimately wise as it dissects history, relationships, gay politics and the mystery of faith.”
Outrage from around the country — and the school’s reaction
Over the last few weeks as word of this has gotten out, various religious groups from around the country have protested vociferously. A local newspaper reported last week said that the school had received nearly 12,000 emailed petition messages against the production.
The school’s reaction has been quite arrogant. The PVPA Head of School, Scott Goldman, told the local Daily Hampshire Gazette that the school has no intention of cancelling the play or changing it. The paper said the school considers much of the criticism to be “filled with hatred and intolerance of differing beliefs and backgrounds.”
The article described Goldman’s statement on the controversy:
In a statement issued Wednesday night, Goldman reiterated the school’s commitment to producing the play, which he said is consistent with the school’s philosophy and is, in the school’s view, an appropriate theater piece for PVPA high school actors and a high school and adult audience. The production is not intended for younger audience members, according to school officials.
In his letter to the school community, Goldman said PVPA hopes the school play raises important questions about the intersection of politics and faith, as well as the need for all people to come together to discover what they have in common and how difficult that can be in today’s world.
In a statement issued Wednesday night, he asked, “Is it the role of public school to facilitate an exchange of ideas on the themes explored in this particular play? This is an excellent question, with answers that I imagine will be debated in what I hope will be climate of civility, and a desire to understand others’ viewpoints.”
This is crazy. But they actually believe this. Here’s what the play’s director said in another local newspaper article:
It’s not a play that bashes religion but it does make fun of some religious attitudes,” director Chris Rohman said earlier this week during a rehearsal, adding: “Although it’s full of jokes — some of them at the expense of religious fundamentalism — the play, is, at its heart, a thoughtful investigation of the meaning of faith and family.
In that same article, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of of Springfield,the Most Rev. Timothy A. McDonnell, gave a perfect response:
I didn’t know it was the responsibility of charter schools to teach religious bigotry.
We couldn’t have put it better.