The news from the Sunshine State is depressing. The governor there, Ron DeSantis, has somehow become the heir apparent to the GOP presidential race, and is running on a campaign of almost fascist talking points. There are multiple sources to show which books have been banned in Florida counties, but you could start here . Im surprised not to see more works of theater here–the old war horse INHERIT THE WIND is aways trotted out by well meaning liberals to talk about censorship, along with that old favorite of Arthur Miller, THE CRUCIBLE. I’m insulted that theater artists have been left off the list of banned work. Has Ron decided that playwrights aren’t dangerous enough to ban from classrooms? Someone would have to actually READ Joseph Heller’s CATCH 22 to understand its revolutionary anti-war screed, and as for plays, there’s always WE BOMBED IN NEW HAVEN.
I went to college in Florida, and my alma Mater was attacked by Right Wingers in 1960. From the Article on the Johns Commission at the USF website: Johns and his gang shifted their focus to higher education by the 1960s, suddenly concluding the real danger to Florida was through Communist, atheist, and/or homosexual professors. As a brand-new urban university, the very existence of USF threatened the old order. That order was enforced by Florida’s “Pork Choppers,” rural legislators determined to curb the influence of the “Lamb Choppers,” legislators representing more progressive city folk. You can find a truncated article on the Johns Commission years at https://usflibexhibits.omeka.net/exhibits/show/witchhunt/flic-at-usf. This is hardly the only time Florida waved the flag for conservatism. As kid, I remember learning to read just in time for a vacation to Florida where I saw my first COLORED drinking fountains. When my grandparents moved down after they retired, we went for a long summer visit only to be constantly lectured about Bussing and how wrong it was. Florida media knew their audience and the act of publicizing ‘race mixing’ was a popular meme.
Anyway, so here we are, with a populous state leaning into an anti-intellectual attitude not seen since the Nazis were burning books in Germany. I’d love to bring some of my one person shows down just to be performed in opposition to the DeSantis edict. There’s always this one, performed at the Tampa Fringe and also in DC in front of the Washington Memorial in 2016.
the Washington Monument is on my right.
The point of this play is that it’s past time for voting. We need a rebellion. There’s a video of this event, courtesy of my friend Steven D Grunbime (CEO of Real Progressives), who lead a group arguing for another vote for 2016. He was nice enough to put up a video of my performance located here. Would this piss off DeSantis? Does Trump have a Toadstool shaped pecker? (ask Stormy). My point is that I could do an updated version of this show that would raise heckles and could be toured around the Sunshine State.
This is hardly the only show I could bring to the land of wet-bulb death. It would take focus off his anti-literature campaign, and it reaches out to audiences in a palpable way. I have to thank my many Supporters in Florida, including Nancy Cole, Denis Calandra, Trish Perry, William Glenn, the late Jack Belt and and Paul Massie and others who’ll be pissed off that I left them off my list. My point is that there are plenty of ways to share national disgust with the status quo besides buying books.
I’m reminded of a story several years ago from John Pielmeier, the author of Agnes of God. He was trying to get a theater production in Pennsylvania when a certain John O’Connor ran the Archdiocese. He was appalled at the topics covered by AGNES and made it known that any Pennsylvania nonprofit theatre group that dared produce AGNES OF GOD would never receive state grants again. Whatever the threat was supposed to mean, the play AGNES OF GOD was produced as a movie and continued to tour.
So my hope is that other playwrights will decide that their work should bombard Florida like we bombed the world in 1945. The point being that artists have a message for the people of the state that there are messages that DeSantis has no right to interfere with. Also, I could use a gig.
In the meantime, if you want to know about the works I’ve done that could piss people off, the one-person shows are assembled here. Be Well.
From PLANET HOSPICE/PHUCKETT performed at the Tampa Fringe Festival. A play about the global warming that DeSantis and his ilk want to deny. You can see the video on my Youtube site. I did video because (after presenting Live in Tampa) it was COVID age and travel was impossible.
UPDATE: I was able to find a list of banned books. If you want to get more PO’ed, read.