Dramatists Legal Defense Fund (DLDF) and The Dramatists Guild announces the second edition of Banned Together: An Anti-Censorship Theatre Podcast. This year’s edition will feature two episodes, which were both released on Monday, November 6. Episodes will be available to stream until November 30 at the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund's website.
To raise awareness regarding the societal dangers of censorship in the theatre industry and at large, the Dramatists Guild will be presenting the first annual Banned Theatre Week from November 6 through November 10, 2023. Just as Banned Books Week calls out the perils of censoring books, Banned Theatre Week will address the dire consequences that can arise from banning plays and musicals.
Banned Together is an initiative that the DLDF began in 2016. When theatrical works are banned in one community –whether removed from a classroom, a library shelf, or a stage- it is a constitutional infringement upon the opportunities, livelihoods, and rights of dramatists, including playwrights, composers, lyricists, and librettists everywhere. According to the Educational Theatre Association’s 2023 annual play survey, 85% of the 2,300 teachers surveyed were concerned about censorship, with 67% of those teachers sharing that these concerns would influence their selections for future productions. Community concerns over language, lyrics, and content are on the rise, matching a wave of book bans and restrictive legislation that affects what can be taught in public schools across the country about LGBTQ rights, racial justice, and other social issues.
As the cornerstone of Banned Theatre Week, the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund presents Season Two of Banned Together: An Anti-Censorship Theatre Podcast, which features excerpts from recently banned, cancelled, or protested plays and musicals including Indecent, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Parade, and more.
The two episodes will feature performances from Tony Award winners Danny Burstein (Pictures from Home, Moulin Rouge), Gabriel Ebert (Passing Strange, Matilda), Nathan Lane (Pictures from Home, Angels in America), Audra McDonald (Ohio State Murders, Shuffle Along), Daphne Rubin-Vega (Miss You Like Hell, Rent), and Brandon Uranowitz (Leopoldstadt, American in Paris) with Ephie Aardema (I Can Get It for You Wholesale, Funny Girl), Courtnee Carter (Parade), Claybourne Elder (Company, Sunday in the Park…), Adam Chanler-Berat (I Can Get It For You Wholesale, Peter and the Starcatcher), Judy Kuhn (I Can Get It for You Wholesale, Fun Home), Douglas Lyons (Parade, Chicken and Biscuits), Javier Muñoz (Hamilton, In the Heights), the Stonewall Chorale, and more. DLDF board members Lydia R. Diamond (Stick Fly, Smart People) and Cheryl Davis host the podcast, which is directed by four-time Tony Award-nominee Raúl Esparza (Oliver, Leap of Faith), with Greg Jarrett (Assassins, Cradle Will Rock) serving as music director.
The plays featured on the podcast will include The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Company, Anna in the Tropics by Nilo Cruz, Angels in America by Tony Kushner, Indecent by Paula Vogel, and Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress. The podcast also includes performances of songs from musicals Fun Home by Jeanine Tesori and Lisa Kron (“Ring of Keys”), Parade by Jason Robert Brown and Alfred Uhry (“Rumblin’ and a Rollin’”), ...Spelling Bee by Rachel Sheinkin and William Finn (“Woe is Me”), Hairspray by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman (“Timeless to Me”), and Rent by Jonathan Larson (“Seasons of Love”).
“We are no longer dealing with one off cancellations driven by the squeamishness of a particular high school principal,” said Dramatists Legal Defense Fund President John Weidman. “We are dealing with deliberate, orchestrated efforts by institutions, from local school boards all the way up to state legislatures, to dictate the ideological boundaries within which theatre will be permitted, the space within which the unique, idiosyncratic voices of Americans writing for the stage will either be tolerated or suppressed.”
Wondering how you can fight back against censorship in your community? Visit www.thedldf.org to report a cancelled production, to download helpful resources, to donate, or to learn more.