When an Oregon high school put the kibosh on a production of Steve Martin’s play Picasso at the Lapin Agile, the author-slash-comedian-slash-renaissance man, upon reading about the controversy online, graciously stepped up and pledged to donate funds to produce the show off-campus.
Apparently, as these censorship-type things go, the initial production was canceled after parents complained about the setting of the play (a bar) and the sexual references. Never mind that the comedy also deals with the ideas of skill and genius, science and art (and commercialism), and features as characters arguably two of the defining talents of the twentieth century: Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso. Never mind it’s been produced in virtually every regional and community theater in the country. Too racy! Not relevant to the curriculum! (It’s not like Einstein sodomizes Picasso while a coterie of Parisian whores do a kick line in the background and surly peasants vigorously rub their crotches or something.) But no, why can’t they do the Bye Bye Birdie? With the singing and the dancing. A show with nary an offensive moment. Oof.
[Martin] said he disagreed strongly with local characterizations of the play as having to do with “people drinking in bars, and treating women as sex objects.”
“With apologies to William Shakespeare,” his letter said, “this is like calling Hamlet a play about a castle.”
Zing! A win for art! And for Steve Martin: concerned patron. Hey, at least he’s not bankrolling a musical version of Mixed Nuts.