Friday, April 09, 2010

Open Letter to the Tyler (TX) Civic Theater

It is not very often that I use my blog to discuss local issues. But this particular issue concerns me because it is just another example of local censorship and bullying by a very vocal group of people who prefer bigotry, ignorance, and the business as usual of good old boys. What follows is the e-mail that I sent to the Tyler Civic Theater. You can find out more information about the Laramie Project on Facebook. If you are local, and you feel that the Civic Theater should not be held hostage by one or two board members reacting to some community segments that are less than enlightened, then go ahead and drop them a line.

The theater's e-mail is info (AT) tylercivictheatre (DOT) com (just replace with @ and a period in the right places).

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To whom it may concern:

I was glad to see that the Tyler Civic Theater is going to present a performance of The Laramie Project. I figured it was a great educational opportunity for the community as well as an opportunity to see a well produced play and a play that presents actual events. So I became concerned when I heard that some members of your board have taken it upon themselves to censor the production and try to remove the performance. I would hope that you are not following the example of other communities, such as Tarleton State University and their cancellation of Corpus Christi. I hope to add my voice to other voices in our community to express support for the performance. I would like to ask a few questions.

  • Are you willing to fall prey to the bullying of some close minded people guided by hate and ignorance?
  • Are you saying by your willingness to cancel this performance that there is no place in this community for presenting the truth? That there is no place to provide for dialogue about important issues that are significant to many people in this and other communities?
  • Are you saying that you prefer to be known as part of those who prefer ignorance, bigotry, falsehoods, and prejudice?
  • Are you saying that there is no room in your theater for plays and productions that may be controversial? Very often, conveying the truth does invite controversy. Controversy should be seen as an opportunity for dialogue and for education. It should not be seen as a path of fear.
  • Are you saying that the only kinds of productions you would present are only ones that are comfortable, that are easy (to produce, that will not raise a fuss, so on)?
  • Are you hoping that if no one notices, that no one will talk about this? And are you hoping that if no one talks about it, or writes about it, or brings attention to it, that the issue will simply disappear?
  • Are you saying that, in the end, there is no room for truth in your theater?
I sincerely hope that your board stands their ground, and that the production of the Laramie Project will go on as planned. I am certainly looking forward to purchasing tickets so I can come see it. In fact, I hope that you get enough support so that you can see that productions like these will be welcomed in our community and will receive a good reception.


Angel R. Rivera, MA, MLS
Tyler, TX

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