Robot 6

Bechdel & Co. are bringing ‘Fun Home’ musical to South Carolina

Fun Home Public Theater/Newman Theater

In the wake of the uproar in South Carolina over her graphic memoir Fun Home, cartoonist Alison Bechdel has joined with the producers and cast of the musical adaptation to bring the acclaimed off-Broadway show to the College of Charleston.

The Post and Courier reports tickets went on sale Tuesday for two concert-version performances to be held April 21 at Memminger Auditorium; about 750 were sold within the first 24 hours. The show, which premiered in September, was announced this week as finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The College of Charleston came under in July for selecting Bechdel’s 2006 memoir — it’s an account of her childhood with a closeted gay father, his apparent suicide and her own coming out as a lesbian — for the College Reads!, an annual campus-wide initiative designed to promote discussion of “challenging” books among faculty, staff and students. Objections resurfaced in February during a budget debate in the House Ways and Means committee, where some members accused the college of promoting a gay agenda and forcing pornography on its students.

The committee voted 13-10 to cut the College of Charleston’s funding by $52,000, the amount it spent last summer on The College Reads, a move that was upheld last month by the full House. The budget bill is now in the hands of the state Senate, which has been urged by a coalition of free-speech advocacy groups, including the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the ACLU of South Carolina, to reject the cuts.

The Post and Courier reports that, following the legislature’s actions, the theater department attempted to secure the rights to the stage production; instead, Bechdel and the cast and crew offered to bring the show to Charleston. “It’s their own way of making a statement,” Lynne Ford, associate provost for curriculum and a member of the College Reads! committee, told the newspaper. “I just can’t imagine a greater outcome.”

According to Charleston City Paper, the college insists the production isn’t meant as a message to the legislature. However, state Sen. Larry Grooms, a Charleston Republican outspoken in his opposition to Fun Home, warned he’ll bring up the “protest” in the budget debate.

“If lessons weren’t learned over there, the Senate may speak a little bit louder than the House,” he told The Post and Courier. “There would be a number of members in the Senate that would have a great interest in fixing the deficiencies at the College of Charleston.”

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Comments

5 Comments

Happy to see people aren’t cowering in fear and just accepting that the legislature should dictate curriculum.

“fixing the deficiencies”? Sheesh. That remark is so unbelievably ignorant, and representative of ignorance, I don’t know where to start.

The idea of this book as a musical confuses and astounds me.

Matthew — I surprised me too, until I saw the production. Amazing, heartbreaking perspective and interpretation of the book.

>>> The idea of this book as a musical confuses and astounds me. <<<

Yes, it is not at all obvious how you would adapt it. In fact it took nearly 5 years of refinement by Kron and Tesori to make it work; the play went through numerous changes in approach and total re-writes, and a "lab" production before they made it work. And these ladies are pretty much born geniuses to start with. The show in New York was presented on a rotating stage, which eliminated the need to pause for set changes. It ran 1 hour and 45 minutes without a millisecond of "downtime" in its single act. The response in S. Carolina confirms what I've long suspected: this show will most definitely "play in Peoria" — there are simply very few, if any, viewers of it that don't like it. Hopefully that will bode well for its eventual revival. It's a one of kind piece.

John Hinsdale
(full disclosure: totally biased my son played one of the kids in the show ;)

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