For the past 24 years, I have been an active participant in my local Sisterhood's annual charity play. We've done some wonderful things, my favorite being "Don't Drink the Water", along with "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying", "The King and I" and "Me and My Girl". There were many other wildly successful performances, but over the past few years, with society's seeming "mad dash" to the right, the 'editing' required to make our plays 'suitable', has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Of course we have attempted the requisite "Gefilte Fish Play", a term I coined for these Jewish themed plays because in these productions the mother is always in the kitchen cooking gefilte fish (never lasagna or meatloaf). The problem is that although these plays were of course 'kosher', they were seldom well written.
Now don't get me wrong - I fully understand the need to edit out anything offensive or inappropriate when presenting a play to a group of frum women and girls. What I DO NOT understand, is the purported "need" to put our minds in the gutter and look for things that could possibly be construed as offensive in the name of maintaining purity. I say it accomplishes exactly the opposite and sullies our souls.
To what am I referring? Let me give you some examples:
To begin with, nearly every male character has been changed to a female, with the exception of one character who marries (late in the play) a character that was changed from a male to a female, thus necessitating a minor character's switch from female to male. With me so far? Somehow, it seems more 'acceptable' for two women to be overly enmeshed friends and travel around the world together, than to have a married couple do the same. If you are confused, don't worry, so am I..... and it gets worse!
Now here comes the fun part. We all know that the devil is in the details so here's where little changes in wording will make ALL the difference (for those of you who's mind's are still pure and you don't see any problem, look for the double entendres):
- Daiquiris will be changed to punch. (don't ask me....)
- A fox hunt will be changed to a horseback ride. (I'm still at a loss....)
- Rum will be changed to grapefruit juice.
- The Virgin Islands will be changed to Martinique.
- A bunch of screws and nuts will be changed to a group of eccentrics.
- There was an attempt to remove the word cockeyed, but I think that was allowed to stand
- In a previous play loving cup was changed to trophy (love has long ago become a "four letter word")
A pivotal moment for me came at last night's rehearsal when it was suggested that perhaps we alter a line in the script that contained the word asinine. Touche to the cast member who responded, "That depends.... can you walk to Amsterdam Avenue? Can you have dealings with Rabbi and Mrs. Lipschitz?".
Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense (Shame To Him Who Evil Thinks.....) [motto of the Order of the Garter - England's highest order of knighthood]
Believe it or not, this is not my soapbox post...... :)