Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lines You WILL NOT Be Hearing at This Year's Sisterhood Play

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...... :)


Frayda said...

"The Virgin Islands will be changed to Martinique."


Chaim said...

Sad. Not much to say. People make something an issue, and then it becomes an issue. And the more you think about it, you're right, all of a sudden you start thinking, "Well, virgin may indeed pose a problem. After all..."

Mikeinmidwood said...

Politics, and I thought the left wing was winning.

Anonymous said...

I went to two of the plays when I was still a young boy. I even remember seeing you act. I think you were the lady constantly saying, "Pick a card, any card." I believe you played a man in the play I'm referring to.

Anonymous said...

(young boy = seven or so)

G6 said...

LOL Anonymous!
The play to which you refer was indeed Don't Drink the Water (my personal favorite) but I cannot take credit for those lines.
They were not even IN the original script... we had a slight "wardrobe malfunction" and those were filler lines as we waited for the entrance of our lead actress.... (which had the audience in stitches and which is probably what made it so memorable for you).
Alas, those were the days when we had enough confidence in ourselves and our frumkeit and we didn't have to go overboard to make a point....
A highly respected member of my community feels that the pendulum will swing backwards once again as the current financial crisis sends more people back into the 'real world'.

efrex said...

Oh, c'mon... this is where The Lovely Wife(tm) and myself have our most fun; as soon as we find out which show is being done, we get to lay odds as to just which innocuous line or lyric is going to get the heave-ho, and why ("Are the characters still allowed to be 'bosom buddies?'"). I dearly hope that it was my relative who was responsible for that retort.

This process has of course, been going on elsewhere for quite some time: I fondly recall our production of My Fair Lady at Eagle Country Day Camp ob"m *mumblemumble* years ago. Because my parents made the mistake of leaving the original cast recording (on LP... back when album cover art meant something, and liner notes were readable*) where I could get to it, I was quite familiar with the score, but was cast in the chorus due to my underwater vocal range (I can barely get above "C" level... ba-dum-bum-BOOM!). Revisions included a big "Wimbledon Opening Day" sequence instead of Ascot, and Henry Higgins singing "It's a crime for a man to go a-wandering" instead of "philandering." The poor drama instructor probably wasn't expecting a 10-year-old nudnik saying "Hey! That's not the line!" (I had no clue what the word "philandering" meant, but by golly, that's what it was supposed to be). Ah, good times, good times...
*Uphill! Both ways! In the snow! And did we complain? You betcha!

G6 said...

LOL! Great comment, efrex.

a) Much to my amazement, the famous song Bosom Buddies was allowed to stand - though I was prepared with a tongue in cheek "replacement" title for the song: Breast Friends!

b)It was indeed your relative who was quick on the draw with her wonderful response :)

c) Thanks for the lovely remembrance of Eagle Day Camp [grin]. I too, fondly remember their plays, though their "editing" was much gentler and frequently made little sense anyway. I still chuckle when I think of the year they did Once upon a Mattress and felt that the title was too risque even for them [even though for those of you who don't know, it's merely a takeoff on the Princess and the Pea]. Sadly though, they missed their mark entirely when they made things worse by titling the play Once Upon a Princess!!


me said...

in Monsey schools the male characters wear pants with the crotch down by the knees. It is always a girl with long, thick, hair, which looks ridiculous under a massive brimmed hat.

So your play is about a relationship between two women who forgo male companionship for the sake of their own close bond? Do they adopt a baby from Nigeria? Does one have a crew cut hair cut?

So instead of daiquiries in the Virgin Islands they can drink Fresca on Long Island. Totally the same thing. Or maybe the Island of Brooklyn.
That's like me giving you a recipe for spinach quiche with feta cheese and puff pastry and you tell me you already make that recipe, but you leave out the puff pastry and use broccoli and cottage cheese instead.


and I think I was the card playing priest.So am I related to Efrex??

G6 said...

I forgot to mention an attempt to change martinis to Ensure "because it's funny".

India was changed to China because, "people are still sensitive about Mumbai" (Oh for Pete's sake! Even Chabad is back there...)

Yes, you were the card playing priests (priests aren't allowed anymore EITHER, btw...) and no, you are not related to efrex.

ProfK said...

Once Upon a Princess?!!! Too funny. Question: by my calculations there are about 3,456 words with "ass" in them and about 2,469 with "as" (pronounced ass), so what are they substituting for those words? When they get a headache they clearly cannot take an aspirin, and that headache cannot be massive, so what are they taking instead? Can I assume that you will do no play in which the action is set in Virginia?

One of the students in our school objected to the idiomatic "tit for tat" that appeared in a story. Just whose minds is it that are in the gutter?!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to put forth the question whether these women censored the rabbonim at their own weddings. Did they allow their Kesubos to be read aloud as they were written? For within that document lies the word virgin in its true definition....

Ezzie said...