"What's up?" I asked. I was throwing on a shirt, after work, getting my night look on.
"It's our apartment newsletter," he said.
Ah, the apartment newsletter. That bastion of fine journalism. What month would be complete without cooking recipes, birthdays, cartoons swiped from the newspaper, and assorted warnings about rule violations? And, it appears, something else.
"There's an advertisement here for an Eldredge High School theater production of 'The Children's Hour,'" said Corb. "And it has a note at the end that says, 'Because of the adult nature of its theme, this play is not recommended for children."
I was sort of taken aback by that. "What's so horrifying about Lillian Hellman?" I asked, confused.
"That's the thing," said Corb. "It says: 'The play contains same sex relations, tragic events, and some suggestive scenes. Anyone with young children or strong moral beliefs against same sex relations is urged not to view this show.'"
"Wow, that's quite an incentive," I said, "I want to go."
"No, I'm serious." Corb was frowning. "So it's immoral to have same sex relations?"
"Well, some people think so, yes..."
"Ted, I'm serious!" So was I. Ah, Corbett hates it when I get so relativistic.
"Well, you can hardly be surprised," I said. "You know that the front office hasn't really been that supportive of us. Especially the shovel Nazi."
"So you think they inserted that?"
"I don't know," I said. "They hardly seem intelligent enough to have actually read 'The Children's Hour.' When I gave them my poster for Anything Goes, they simply reduced it and threw it into the newsletter."
"So you think the school wrote the warning?"
Only one way to find out. That night, Corb sent an email to the school. And the next day, he received the following reply:
"I am the dramatics coach at the High School, and I am proud to be the director of "The Children's Hour." I am both saddened and confused by the advertisement in your newsletter, especially because I personally have no knowledge of this particular advertisement. Our posters have not yet been printed, and I only recently submitted information to a reporter from the local paper. The only disclaimer that I gave them was that the play would not be appropriate for younger children, and my reason for doing so was more because of a character who committs suicide rather than any beliefs regarding same sex relations.
May I inquire about your newsletter? Since it is not representing my beliefs, nor does it seem to be sanctioned by the high school, I would like to know where this disclaimer is coming from. Any information would be greatly appreciated because I do not want or care for hurtful or negative publicity. I want people to come see the play for its dramatic merit and not because of any controversy."
He also set aside two tickets for us to see the play, any night we wanted.
So, it appears clear that the warning did come from the apartment staff. Why, I wonder? Why would they go out of their way to promote a play, and in the next breath, add a disclaimer that warns people that the play comes attached with the malodorous whiff of "same sex relations"?
Did they do so out of an abundance of caution? Do they have people that complain about "those damn same sex relations" all the time? Did they do it because they felt obligated to promote the show (maybe a renter is in it), but had heard that was all about the lesbians? But then, do they really even know what the show is about, if they made such a big deal about it?
And why phrase it that way: "strong moral beliefs against same sex relations"? Why not just say that the play contains mature subject matter? Why spell it out like that? Also, doesn't the phrase suggest that to be against "same sex relations" is the morally proper thing to do? Or, am I reading too much into it?
Corb's forwarding the newsletter to the high school, tomorrow. But the question is, should we say something to our landlord?
Personally, I doubt it would make much of an impact. If anything, the attitude will be, "Well, to hell with it, we just won't promote any more of those damn theater productions, ever again."
It's funny. That play was first produced in 1934, and when it was considered for adaptation as a movie, had to be reworked to take out the lesbian relationship. Even the title had to be changed. It's sad to see that that spirit of ghastly moral outrage is still alive and well and kicking in Eldredge, after all these years.