America Needs Fatima, a conservative Catholic group, has slammed an Atlanta theatre for planning to stage The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, a play that re-imagines biblical figures as queer.
According to this report, the Out Front Theatre Company’s production the play doesn’t officially open until April 27, but has already been slammed as “blasphemous” by ANF, which is particularly outraged that it portrays the Virgin Mary as a lesbian.
The group, which is based in Pennsylvania, launched an online petition asking Out Front Theatre’s Artistic Director Paul Conroy to cancel the production. The petition, which has so far attracted more than 43,000 signatures says:
I vehemently protest your showing the blasphemous play ‘The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told,’ which, among other blasphemies, refers to the Virgin Mary as a lesbian. The Holy Mother of God is most pure and holy. To refer to her as a lesbian, or even to insinuate it, is an unspeakable blasphemy, which I reject with all my soul. I fear God’s wrath will fall upon us if reparation is not made.
The group then threatens to oppose the play “loudly, peacefully, and legally in as large a protest as we can help make possible” if Conroy chooses to stage the play.
Paul Rudnick’s 1998 comedy follows Adam and Steve, a gay couple who navigate the centuries with Jane and Mabel, who are lesbians. Along the way, they encounter Noah’s ark, the first Christmas and other well-known Bible stories before traveling to present day New York.
Even though the theatre company had been planning to mount the play for over a year, Conroy told The New York Times that the pushback didn’t begin until March 27, possibly in response to America Needs Fatima’s petition.
Since then, he said he and his team have been inundated with letters, emails, phone calls and Facebook messages condemning the production. Still, he vowed not to bow down to the criticism.
I think everyone has their individual beliefs and they are entitled to that. If that’s what they believe, they don’t have to come and see our production, but to disrupt a production is where I don’t think it’s okay.
In a Tuesday Facebook post, he thanked the theater’s patrons for their support, but acknowledged that the controversy had “taken its toll” on the play’s cast and creative team.
To put it bluntly, our creative expression is under attack. People who have never seen or read ‘The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told’ are telling us what is wrong with the show, and people who have never met us are telling us what they think is wrong with us … I can promise that you will laugh, cry and think – all the things theatre should do.
Conroy has three words for those opposing the play:
You are wrong. We are not freaks. We are not awful. We are not going to hell because of this show.
Meanwhile, the Out Front Theatre Company cited a statement it had received from Rudnick himself on its official Facebook page. The playwright, who is best known for 1993’s Jeffrey, praised the theatre for its decision to move forward with his show in spite of the complaints it had thus far received.
The play has always attracted a certain amount of controversy, mostly from people who haven’t read or seen the play, like the Fatima organization. Blessedly, all sorts of people, gay and straight, and everyone from atheists to the most devout, most often end up truly enjoying themselves once they’re in the audience.