Arts Council questions SD51 on censorship of DECK over mooning scene

Erin Perkins
By Erin Perkins
March 16th, 2013

The Boundary District Arts Council (BDAC) is accusing School District 51 of being “inconsistent” when it chose to censor the DECK presentation because of a bare-bottomed scene but not The Vagina Monologues, which was performed at the same Grand Forks Secondary School Centennial Auditorium in 2003.

Three of the society’s directors – president Michele Garrison, vice president Anya Soroka and secretary Ted Invictus — made a presentation to the School Board during their regular meeting on Tuesday, March 12.

DECK, a one-person comedy production written and performed by Nelsonite Lucas Myers, came to Grand Forks in mid-February. The School District told BDAC they couldn’t use the community theatre space in GFSS because in one scene the actor bares his bottom for a few seconds.

“We were prohibited by the School District from presenting this performance in the Centennial Auditorium, even though the production was to be held in the evening and was advertised as ‘not suitable for children’,” read Garrison from a prepared letter she distributed to the trustees before the meeting.

BDAC scrambled to find a new location – which they did at the Gem Theatre.

But BDAC wants to know why the school district would censor a bare bottom moment but not a fake but realistic orgasmic scene in The Vagina Monologues production by the Women’s Coalition in 2003.

The School District’s decision to censor and ultimately prohibit the production of DECK was inconsistent with its 2003 decision permitting the Women’s Coalition production of The Vagina Monologues.

Garrison provided the trustees with a printed letter, which she read from, and a copy of the BC Crown Counsel Policy Manual on “Immoral Theatrical Performances” to demonstrate how DECK did not violate provincial guidelines.

“As a result of SD51’s confusing policy, compounded by its own precedent in permitting The Vagina Monologues, and its banning of DECK, our community was caused unnecessary negative publicity over censorship as well as the loss of tax dollars which support out Performance Series,” said Garrison. “In conclusion, BDAC asks that SD51 review its policy and its ad hoc interpretations of its policy with an eye to achieve consistency as well as serve our over arching community values of non-censorship of the arts.”

Board chair Theresa Rezansoff and her fellow trustees looked speechless after the brief presentation. Rezansoff said the board couldn’t comment on the question at present but would discuss the issue further and then get back to BDAC soon.

“I hope they talk this over seriously and consider the community’s needs to have uncensored works of art at the high school as they have done in the past,” said Garrison during a private interview with The Boundary Sentinel.

She pointed out that the Boundary Musical Theatre’s recent production of Annie Get Your Gun, which followed the original 1946 Broadway script, was more offensive than DECK.

“Racism and sexism are okay but a bare bum is totally unacceptable,” said Garrison.

“I hope (the board) has a shared consensus that fine art may have some controversy but it’s worth it – Vagina Monologues was worth it,” she said.

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