A theatre company in Atlanta, Georgia has received huge backlash for their new production of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told - a play that reimagines biblical stories in queer contexts.
The Out Front Theatre Company's newest production hasn't even opened yet, but has already been the target of an online petition protesting the play, and has consequently been inundated with letters, emails, social media messages, and phone calls from people who believe the production is blasphemous. Messages that the company are receiving include, "Your show is a total freak show", and "What the hell is wrong with you people?".
The play follows gay couple Adam and Steve and lesbian couple Jane and Mabel, who agree to begin civilisation together. The two couples navigate through a range of biblical stories including the Garden of Eden, Noah's Ark, and the first Christmas, ending up in modern-day New York. The play - written by Paul Rudnick - was first staged in New York in 1998, starring Amy Sedaris and Alan Tudyk.
The online petition was created by conservative Catholic group America Needs Fatima, who take serious issue its depiction of the Virgin Mary as a lesbian, "among other blasphemies".
The petition, which has amassed 43,000 signatures at time of writing, reads, "Press reports say The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told portrays Our Lady as a lesbian. It presents a homosexual version of the Old Testament, with scenes of “Adam and Steve” in full frontal nudity in the original script. According to The New York Times, the playwright himself is a homosexual."
"I vehemently protest your showing the blasphemous play The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, which, among other blasphemies, refers to the Virgin Mary as a lesbian. Please cancel your showing of it.
The Holy Mother of God is most pure and holy. To refer to her as a lesbian, or even to insinuate it, is an unspeakable blasphemy, which I reject with all my soul. I fear God’s wrath will fall upon us if reparation is not made."
The petition then promises that Catholics will protest "loudly, peacefully and legally" if the play goes ahead.
The artistic director of Out front Theatre, Paul Conroy, has vowed that he will not back down to the heavy-handed backlash from religious groups. He told Georgia radio station WABE, "If that’s what they believe, they don’t have to come and see our production, but to disrupt a production is where I don’t think it’s okay."
Conroy then posted a message to the Theatre's public Facebook page, encouraging people to support the show and help the cast and crew stay positive during the flood of abuse and angry messages.
Despite all of this, the show will go on - The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told will open at Out Front Theatre in Atlanta on April 27th.