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. However we recognize that the problems with the school are far more ingrained and serious than this symptom and cannot be cured by a single action. 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 keep an eye on No More Lost for updates on this story and other issues important to the LGBTQIAPPQIA community. Sources: BBC and Guardian Photo credit: Guardian
This opera was a work designed to address issues of intolerance and promote tolerance and understanding. Based on the prejudices of some in the local area authority, school, and parentage they refused to allow a character to admit to being openly gay. LGBTQIAPPQA youth are among the most vulnerable and at risk students in school.
9 out of 10 LGBTQIAPPQA youth are bullied on account of their sexuality or gender identity, 1 in 3 LGBTQIAPPQA have tried to commit suicide as a result of the intolerance they face at home and at school. LGBTQIAPPQA youth who face intolerance at home are 8 times more likely to commit suicide. The local authority and the school has a severe problem with LGBTQIAPPQA intolerance and this needs to be urgently addressed.
Rather than standing for tolerance, you supported the right of the school to be intolerant, and implied that Lee Hall was the problem for daring to include an openly gay character in the Opera.
We are asking that you work with the local community to bring an uncensored production of "Beached" to the town of Bridlington. This is a town were the school and the local authority suffer from deeply ingrained homophobia, there is no where more important for this play to be shown in the UK than in Bridlington. In addition we are asking that you pledge that in future you will not condone, support or defend homophobic attitudes of those you partner with.