You’d think that being the creator of Billy Elliot, one of the most successful musicals of the last 20 years would guarantee you some artist freedom, but Lee Hall had his latest project cancelled over a character being open about being gay.
The community Opera, called “Beached” featured a huge cast that included 300 pupils from a local primary school. However production was halted when both Bay Primary School and the Local Area Authority demanded that Hall remove any lines that referenced the character’s sexuality.
Hall went out of his way to try to fix the problem and even offered to pay for Stonewall’s education team out of his own pocket. His efforts were rebuffed, and the school cancelled its participation a matter of a couple of weeks before opening night, ending the production.
We would love for the headmistress, Emma Hobbs and the Local Area Authority to reconsider. If they were to help put on a new production of “Beached” free from the homophobic censorship they tried to force in, we’d be very happy.
The critical issue here is that a supposedly tolerant and progressive theatrical group not only refuses to stand up for tolerance, but goes out of its way to defend the homophobic institution and puts the blame on the writer for daring to disagree.
Through their statements, responses and press releases, it is clear, that they feel as though they are blameless, and continue to put all the blame at Lee Hall’s feet.
We would like Opera North to put together a new production at their own expense with a cast including 300 children from local schools and community groups, to give the people of Bridlington the opportunity to see this wonderful opera, and to pledge that in future they will not be apologists for homophobia.
Please sign our petition over at Change.org
Sources: BBC and Guardian
The play went ahead last saturday