Writers Theatre is proud to celebrate 33rd Annual Banned Books Week and encourages you to do the same. Our 2015/16 season includes a world premiere entitled Death of a Streetcar Named Virginia Woolf: A Parody. This production features several characters taken from four revered classics of U.S. drama that have all been banned, censored, or otherwise restricted at various times.
- Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman was negatively viewed by the House of Un-American Activities Committee when it debuted in 1949. That same year it also won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play.
- Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948. During the making of the film in 1951, several scenes considered too sexually explicit had to be removed in order for the film to get produced/released.
- Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? won the 1963 Tony Award for Best Play. When two advisory board members of the Pulitzer Prize committee objected to the work citing obscene subject matter, it was denied the prize that year and consequently no Pulitzer for Drama was awarded and two other advisory board members resigned.
- Thornton Wilder’s Our Town won the Pulitzer for Drama in 1938 and yet in 1947, Russia banned the presentation of it citing its “glorification of family.”
By 2015, these works are so well-respected as masterworks, that we’re able to find humor in/poke fun at them through a parody of these very well-known characters and situations.
This Banned Book Week, we take a moment to remember that the same material that may be deemed controversial, unsuitable, or offensive, may one day be lauded as a classic and taught in classrooms across the nation. At WT, we take this to heart as we continue to encourage bold new writing through our Literary Development Initiative, and encourage voracious reading appetites and critical thinking skills in the students we reach through our Education Department’s literacy programs. As the American Library Association puts it:
“Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.”
At Writers Theatre we consider ourselves an extension of the “book community” and are committed to engaging in the expression of all ideas on our stages and beyond and the crucial conversations they create.