The cast of Fun Home: The Musical is taking action and reuniting at the College of Charleston for two special performances Monday in response to cuts made to the LGBT curriculum, according to Playbill.com.
This February, State Representative Garry Smith approved a $52,000 budget cut from the College of Charleston after Alison Bechdel's graphic memoir Fun Home was included on the summer reading curriculum. To those of you who haven't read Fun Home, it tells the personal, in-depth, and touching story of Alison Bechdel's upbringing and family life, focusing on her complicated relationship with her closeted father who committed suicide as well as her struggles and realizations about her own sexuality.
Garry Smith spoke out on his issues with the novel, stating, "This is purely promotion of a lifetstyle with no academic debate," and tweeted that the book could be, "considered pornography." Personally, I was lucky enough to be assigned Fun Home in an LGBT course at my college, and it's an important piece that lead to many powerful, meaningful dicussions in the classroom. None of them, (shockingly!), were pornographic. Bechdel emailed Playbill.com about the ban, saying, "I still don't grasp what it is that these state legislators find so objectionable about the book. (Do they hate cartoons?)...But there is something particularly obscene and perverse about their act of censorship given that Fun Home is about the human cost of sexual shame and secrecy."
Smith's sweeping proposal also sought to cut more than $17,000 from the University of South Carolina Upstate after Out Loud: The Best of the Rainbow Radio, was assigned as part of the curriculum there. The Senate has not voted on that measure yet, according to Playbill.
On the upside, in response to the unfortunate cuts, the College of Charleston is about the get one wonderful evening. The Off-Broadway cast of the musical adaptation that premiered last year at The Public Theater in New York will stop by for two special concerts. In attendance will be Bechdel herself, as well as Jeanine Tesori (music), Lisa Kron (book and lyrics), Chris Fen, (musical director). Actors Beth Malone (Alison), Emily Skeggs (Medium Alison), Sydney Lucas (Small Alison), Michael Cerveris (Alison's father Bruce Bechdel), and Judy Kuhn (Alison's mother Helen Bechdel) will be performing.
The musical, a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer for Drama, was a huge success in New York, receiving several extensions and 11 Lucille Lortel nominations. The College of Charleston had actually been hoping to put on a student production, but a potential Broadway run made the rights unavailable. There's nothing official on that front yet, but the soundtrack is now available for purchase/download, so you can get yourself familiar with the musical in the meantime! The concert received no state funding, but thanks in part to the generosity of the Sam and Regina Greene Fund at the Coastal Community Foundation, the college and the state itself get to experience one very special story told by an incredibly talented cast.
Just last week out playwright Leigh Hendrix's play How to be a Lesbian in Ten Days or Less was removed from the Bodies of Knowledge Symposium at University of South Carolina Upstate due to negative buzz from conservative Sen. Mike Fair alleging that play was an attempt to "recruit" lesbians.
Hopefully South Carolina's lawmakers will soon see that these stories aren't harmful at all, but beautiful and meaningful parts of the human experience that deserve to shared.
Watch the Fun Home montage below!