Open letter to MCT director Curt Olds:
First I would like to compliment you and the entire staff of “The Mikado” on the beautiful sets, costuming and professional performance we experienced on Sunday, Jan. 23. However, I must call you on something that was inserted into the play which I am almost positive was not in the original book.
The comments made in such a cavalier and oh-so-humorous way were uncalled for. Now, I realize you play to a mostly liberal audience in Missoula and so, I am sure, felt comfortable in your calling for the beheading of Sarah Palin. I am painfully aware that most in the audience tittered with laughter and clapped because “no one would miss her” but there were some in your audience who took great offense to this “uncivil tone” about another human being.
We are in the midst of a crisis that took place in Tucson where many started pointing fingers at that horrible right wing with all their hatred and targeting and standing for the second amendment and on and on and on. So, here we are in a lovely play with beautiful voices serenading us and we have to hear that it is okay to call for the killing of Sarah Palin because we don’t like her and no one would miss her. Unbelievable.
As a professional you should be ashamed of yourself, the audience should be ashamed of themselves and I am ashamed of myself for not standing up and leaving at that very moment. I would like to see an apology from you not because I want to hinder free-speech but for the hypocrisy this so clearly shows.
Rory Page, Clinton
Should it even be necessary to say that MCT Community Theater was not actually calling for the “beheading of Sarah Palin?” And it’s also clear from the letter that most of the audience took it in the intended spirit. But McGill didn’t even bother to confront Page’s obtuseness. Here is McGill’s craven reply:
I am sorry that the satirical reference to Sarah Palin has offended some of our patrons. Gilbert & Sullivan were well-known as satirists, addressing the social and cultural issues of their day – aristocracy, government, etc. Some of the lyrics performed in “The Mikado” around the country today reflect the issues and topics of our time.
We know that “MCT” means many things to many people – and we are blessed with passionate, loyal audiences, here in Missoula and around the world. In this instance, however, we are talking about an MCT Community Theatre production (not to be confused with a Missoula Children’s Theatre production).
Although MCT Community Theatre did not pen the lyrics that were found to be offensive, we have taken the action of removing them from this production. It is my hope that the audiences will appreciate the hard work, artistry and beauty within this MCT Community Theatre production of “The Mikado.”
Michael McGill, executive director, MCT, Inc., Missoula
This reflects badly on the levels of free speech and artistic independence available to Americans under the new political dispensation. What makes it worse is that McGill just folded under pressure. Self-censorship is the most wide-spread and insidious threat to freedom of speech.
Instead of just fuming, I will leave you in the capable hands of Eric Idle, in the 1987 English National Opera production of the Mikado, which I have just discovered is out on DVD. I would have posted the whole production, but I can only find the first 3 ten minute segments on YouTube. So I’m just posting part 3, with the List song included. What a Thatcherite/Coalition crew they are!