Play Director Defends Nudity On GRCC Stage

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — A theatrical performance at Grand Rapids Community College is receiving criticism from some community members and a concerned board trustee for its controversial nature that included a nude actor on stage.

Actors’ Theater put on a production of “Love! Valour! Compassion!” at the Spectrum Theater on GRCC’s campus, and during a board meeting Monday night one of the board members said the group’s funding should be taken away.

The show is a Tony Award-winning play that tackles issues like homophobia and AIDS, but two scenes in the play are stirring up controversy.  In the show, an actor removes his clothing and is fully nude on stage.

“It is written that the actor is nude in that scene, and we here at Actors’ strive really hard to produce theater as it is written,” said Jolene Frankey, director of the play. “We do not censor it. We do not edit it.”

Bert Bleke, chair of GRCC Board of Trustees, says one member believes the nude scene crossed a line and doesn’t think it’s something tax money should be funding. “Every board member is entitled to their opinion, and I think we need to honor that,” said Bleke.

Bleke added that the debate over nudity in the arts is nothing new in West Michigan.  The board will take several factors into consideration during budget talks, including whether to fund the theater group again next year, with or without this latest controversy, he said.  Each program is analyzed every year on how it helps students and whether the school can afford to fund it.

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7 comments

  • ivan

    Its there to get press just like this. Its not necessary and given a choice most people don’t want to see an ugly wanker being waved about on stage. When you write a play that involves the lifestyle of 1% of people you have to create a little shock and awe to bring attention to the cause .

  • no censoring

    There is always someone who is going to complain about something. You cannot please all the people all the time. We have actors making $$$$ for nude scenes. If it is something that makes me uncomfortable for any reason I don't watch it but we can't start to censor because where then is the line drawn? what gets censored and what doesn't? Apparently the play was good enough to win a Tony award so if people object to the nude scenes or they make them uncomfortable then close your eyes or just don't go to the play but don't ask for only Disney rated plays.

  • Jeremiah Schrader

    I think the nude scenes are fine for the play. Its not the first play with nudity before. i was a student back in 2002, or 2003 when there was nudity in "Quills." The play was very good. Plays with nudity is like a movie with nudity. If yiou don't want to see the nudity, then don't come see the play.

  • George

    Who says art is the highest form of humanity? …artists
    Just like the teachers union would have you believe "education" is the most nobel profession ( especially around millage time )