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Monster Mash: Obama borrows Rockwell painting; with 'gay' word change, canceled opera is back on

July 7, 2011 |  6:42 am


Iconic artist: President Obama is borrowing a painting from the Norman Rockwell Museum that depicts racial integration. The work, titled "The Problem We All Live With," will hang outside the Oval Office through Oct. 31. (Berkshire Eagle)

Show goes on: An opera for kids by the creator of "Billy Elliot " that was canceled is back on after the writer agrees to change the word "queer" to "gay." (BBC News)

In the spotlight: Playwright Christopher Hampton will be honored next season at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis with a festival of his stage work. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

Follow that cab: Police investigating the theft of a Picasso sketch from a San Francisco art gallery are hoping to find clues in an impounded taxi that was used as the getaway vehicle. (Reuters)

Keeping busy: Recently released artist Ai Weiwei is believed to be back at work, though he still has not spoken to the press about his time in detention. (New York Times)

Entering the fray: The Diocese of Orange may make a bid for the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral. (Los Angeles Times)

Hiatus: Starting Thursday, Daniel Radcliffe will take a mini-break from Broadway's "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" to promote the new "Harry Potter" movie. (Playbill)

Animal cruelty? The Royal Shakespeare Company has removed a scene showing the mutilation of a dead rabbit from its production of "As You Like It" that is being performed this summer in New York. (Wall Street Journal)

Looking ahead: New York City Opera's first season away from Lincoln Center will include productions at venues around the city. (New York Times)

Broadway bound? A revival of "Jesus Christ Superstar" from Canada appears to be a likely candidate for a Broadway transfer. (New York Post)

Hard times: The oldest continuously operating theater in Boston is going dark. (Boston Globe)

A worthy cause: Works by Andy Warhol and Alexander Calder will be sold at a Sotheby's charity auction in November for children orphaned and otherwise vulnerable in Africa. (Reuters)

Also in the L.A. Times: A new gallery exhibition titled "Super 8" focuses on the world of video art.

-- David Ng

Photo: Norman Rockwell's "The Problem We All Live With." Credit: Norman Rockwell Museum

The writer agreed to change the word to "gay" after a primary school removed 300 children from the community show.

The cancellation sparked accusations of homophobia but Bay Primary school has now said it is happy with the language.

Beached, commissioned by Opera North, will take place, as planned, in Bridlington on 15 July.

The school had complained about the lines: "Of course I'm queer/That's why I left here/So if you infer/That I prefer/A lad to a lass/And I'm working class/I'd have to concur."

Hall told BBC News: "I agreed to change "queer" to "gay" as to me they are synonymous. I would have done this months ago if asked."

The contested lines have now been changed to: "Of course I'm gay/That's why I went away/So if you infer/That I prefer/A lad to a lass/And him working class/I'd have to concur."

'Intense negotiations'

In a joint statement, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Bay Primary said the school would take part now that the libretto was "an age appropriate text".

They said they were "delighted" that the author had "addressed the points raised by the school".

The council, the school and Opera North all denied being motivated by homophobia.

They said they had never "expressed any concern over the inclusion of a gay character, only some of the language and tone around the character's identity", the statement said.

Playwright Lee Hall and Opera North director Richard Mantle joined BBC Breakfast to discuss the controversy

"The writer has now addressed this," it added.

But in his own statement, Hall said the school had "backed down".

"This is a real victory for people speaking up against discrimination.

"It had been an intractable situation for weeks and the school and Opera North were given no other option but to take a U-turn on their discriminatory position.

"It's clearly a victory for good sense. We cannot silence gay people or any minorities. It's a real victory for collective action."

"They tried to censor me and they failed," he added.

Beached tells the story of a single father trying and failing to have a quiet day at Bridlington beach.

Opera North, which has had a two-year residency in the town, said "intense negotiations" had been taking place since the performance was called off on Friday.

"We have been at pains to work closely with the writers at all times, and have supported their rights of artistic expression throughout," a statement from the Leeds-based company said.

"We have also worked equally hard to ensure that the schools and community groups involved in the project have positive feelings of ownership and identity within the production."

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