Green threatens regional theatre, gets response

Stephen Green has been sending out letters to regional theatres in an effort to stop them from showing Jerry Springer:The Opera. The two-page missive, a copy of which is available here, threatens any theatre intending to stage the production with “prayer vigils” both “at shows running before the event, and certainly during any run of ‘Springer’ itself”, and also with prosecution for “the criminal offence of blasphemy”. The letter concludes,

I should be glad to learn from you whether or not your theatre has any plans to stage ‘Jerry Springer the Opera’ and if so, what stage your negotiations with the producers have reached.

Thanks to Gwenda Hughes, Artistic Director of The New Vic Theatre in Staffordshire, for the above information, and for sharing with us her magnificent response, which is quoted here in full:

For the attention of Stephen Green


I have received your letter concerning JERRY SPRINGER, THE OPERA.

Future programming is a confidential matter between employees and our Trustees until a season is announced and our brochure distributed. Details of our current season are available on our website. Should you wish to receive our brochure, published three times a year, please ring the Box Office number and we will put you on our mailing list.

It is my responsibility to decide what plays, concerts and events are programmed at this theatre, subject to ratification by the Trustees.

I will continue to programme as I see fit and appropriate for the organisation. Neither I, nor the Trustees, will change the programme or the programming policy as a result of threats, bullying or intimidation from any outside body.

I hope this makes the situation quite clear.

Yours faithfully,

Gwenda Hughes


15 Responses to “Green threatens regional theatre, gets response”

  1. says:

    Theatre stands up to Fundamentalism

    In a rare example these days of a publicly visible organisation not being intimidiated, Gwenda Hughes of the New Vic in Staffordshire, makes a wonderful reply to a letter which essentially says ‘Nice theatre, shame if there were protestors’. I…

  2. tom p says:

    Yay! Good on you Gwenda, stick it to the rat faced hypocritical little man

  3. […] 8 Mar 05

    New Vic, Staffs, won’t take evangelical intimidation over Jerry Springer show
    MWW reports that the Artistic Director of The New Vic Theatre in Staffordshire, Gwenda Hu […]

  4. Dr Christopher Shell says:

    Three comments, three value-judgments, three examples of rhetoric; zero arguments.

  5. Joe says:

    That’ll be because there isn’t any real argument to be had here, Chris. Green is the Taliban. He uses intimidation and lies with the ultimate aim of imposing his fascistically-narrow interpretation of Christanity upon the nation. He’s filth. Lucky for us that he’s got such a minuscule operation…

  6. Christopher Shell says:

    Minuscule? CV may be, but sympathisers are legion.
    You know as well as I do that JSTO got by far the record number of complaints – 20x or 30x the previous record.
    For every person who does complain, how many opthers dont complain but still agree?
    You also know that CV is not the only game in town – e.g. Mediamarch, Mediawatch, CCTV.
    London is full of megachurches in which you will scarcely find one supporter of your point of view.
    In the light of this, is it truth or ideology to use the word ‘minuscule’? Even the word ‘small’ would be controversial?

  7. Joe says:

    We were quite specifically talking about Stephen Green. I described his operation as ‘minuscule’ because, as you acknowledge yourself, it is. He could only muster five people for his debut demo at the Cambridge Theatre (and even then felt driven to massage the numbers upward in his report). The size of other organisations or of ‘megachurches’ doesn’t really enter into it.

    As to how many others complain but still agree – I don’t know. And neither do you. Maybe there’s lots. Maybe there’s none. But I do know that the complainers were outnumbered 36 to 1 by the people who watched it.

  8. Nick says:

    And it’s worth pointing out that some of the supposed complaints were actually letters and messages of support but the BBC counted everything it received to come up with that number.

  9. Dave says:

    Three cheers for Gwenda Hughes – hip hip…

  10. Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Joe

    Can you name a single programme in the history of broadcasting whose viewers did not significantly outnumber the complainers?

    If not, then the point you make is not significant.

  11. Christopher Shell says:

    Hi Nick

    What proportion were messages of support?

  12. darren says:

    Hey Christopher some people will always complain no matter what is shown on TV but i think if they dont like the show just change channel!

  13. Dr Christopher Shell says:

    Great! Let’s show snuff movies and footage of what really went on in Neverland.
    If people don’t like it they can just change channel.
    I believe your principle cannot be applied.

  14. Olly says:

    The difference being that murder and child abuse are crimes; profanity is not. There are laws against blasphemy but these are almost always stopped as the AG is “not willing to proceed”, since the Humans Rights Act 1998 now gives freedom of speech precedent over outdated laws.

    I appreciate that many were unhappy with the fact that their money was used to pay for this, but I’m an atheist and my licence fee money is spent on Songs of Praise, Heaven and Earth, Thought of the Day (which actively does not allow atheist thinkers), Midnight Mass, and others. Those are on annually, weekly, and even daily, and so cost far more than a one-off opera.

  15. Dr Christopher Shell says:

    CRIMES: Many things are not criminal but still no good to anyone. Many things that are now not criuminal have been criminal in the past (and vice-versa). Many things that are criminal in the UK are not criminal in various other countries (and vice-versa).

    We need to have the imagination to realise that the UK law in AD 2005 is not a given or a blueprint: it is one of many variations on what a national law can be. (Unless we take the untenable position that we in our age and nation are clearly wiser than people of any other time or nation.) There’s all the difference in the world between legal and beneficial, or between legal and right.

    You can’t honestly think that UK law as it now stands is precisely right in all its particulars. But if it isnt, then it cant be appealed to as a basis.