I would like to say that I really enjoyed the cover of your July issue with Madonna set upon the crucifix. It made me open the mag immediately to search for a larger picture of that scene. It was there. The piece itself was very informative and well written.
This month, I opened up the mag and saw people had written in to complain about the offensiveness of that cover. I then looked at this month's cover, which is a photo taken looking up a dancer's dress. How perfect. With any luck, the fellow who needs to place gaf tape over his cover will have had a coronary.
From what I assume, the majority of your readers are involved in the arts. Whether they are designers, technicians, or businessmen, one would think they have an open mind to all kinds of productions. Being close-minded and hiding behind your God is a shame. I choose not to go to your church. You can choose to not read the article.
My first thought after reading the two letters about LD cover photos was how recently (say, 1870) it was still difficult for actors to be given church funerals in New York City. Then I thought about how the Puritans closed the theatres in 1642 to “…appease and avert the wrath of God.” But I think the letter writers really meant to bring up issues of taste and tact, not of religious doctrine.
I know that daily speech and life have become coarser in recent years. Words never spoken publicly when I was a child are used by the Vice President and lesser notables on a daily basis. American religious and political leaders have called publicly for the death of their opponents. I was not offended by either cover, but I can see that some readers would have preferred not to see them.
I do have standards. For example, I won't visit the various “Human Bodies” exhibits. That's not because I object to revealing the pre-Renaissance secrets of human anatomy, but because of various ethical, political, and financial concerns many have about the provenances of the bodies themselves.
But as I read the daily papers immediately after receiving the August 2006 Live Design, I found stories like “2006 Edinburgh Fringe festival includes ‘Petrol Jesus Nightmare’, ‘Mary and the Stripper’, and ‘Jesus, The Guantanamo Years,” and “Business Leading a Push for Liquor in Bible Belt” (which was primarily about Wal-Mart, if you can imagine that), and “Museums Set Guidelines for Use of Sacred Objects.”
And I remembered the furors over Judy Chicago, Andres Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Rudy Giuliani's unsophisticated response to Chris Ofili's The Virgin Mary.
Please, won't the first two letter writers consider whether they are doing their families any favor by pretending that they can live within the walls of a Christian compound for their entire lives? I mentioned Giuliani's fury over a painting because many devout Americans have never seen a painting of either a black Madonna or a nursing Madonna, which have been venerated for hundreds of years. If you respond to Ofili's image without having seen the range of respectful views artists have taken of Mary, you don't know what you're talking about. I'm pleased how main line and fundamentalist churches alike have taken The Da Vinci Code as an opportunity for teaching, rather than for metaphorical book burning. Can the wife you are protecting from images of Madonna (the singer) identify a cab driver as a Sikh rather than a Muslim? Have your children ever been to a Jewish or Hindu wedding? Do you know which religious group was accused of “The Blood Libel” before Jews were? (Hint: It was during the Roman Empire.)
Timothy H. Buchman
I am a lighting designer and a member of the P.A.T.D.A.T.-OISTAT Centre Philippines. In response to your request to react regarding the [July] cover of Live Design, I decided to “express myself.” I've read reviews in the papers regarding Madonna's concert and what a “joy” it was to see it on the e-newsletter that it's on this month's issue! If it's in the news and if it's about shows, it's understood that it's going to be on LD. I personally don't think that you're going to hell just because you decided to print it on the cover. I don't think that Madonna's going to hell either by doing a crucifixion scene…I would just like to assure you that it's perfectly fine for it to be published. If I remember it correctly, a certain artist named Sinead ripped an ex-pope's picture on TV, and to me, a person who stands by his convictions is cool (to some extent). That goes to you too :) So, if there will be any negative reactions from other readers who are not into the art of live events, just tell them “Papa, don't preach.”
-Joseph G. Matheu, lighting designer/technical director
hues n cues
Lights + Sounds
After reading the negative responses to the July 2006 cover of Madonna adorned on a mirror-tiled cross, I have only one thing to officially say…GET OVER IT!
This business is largely about art, regardless of what some might jokingly say. Art is about free expression, and free expression should make you think about and look at the world around you in a different light. I don't particularly agree with Madonna's choice of visual representations either, but I'll be damned if I'm going to show protest toward her right to express herself (no pun intended). Similarly, I would never suggest that this magazine hold back in expressing itself either. That cover showed a controversial picture of a controversial production and, in doing so, summarized the production perfectly. Technically, it was as you put it, “the best blend of artist and technology” in showing the artist, lighting, set design, motion control, audio, and video elements simultaneously in one concise image.
Thank you for not holding back, and please don't begin to do so for the sake of the closed-minded.
Dierson Design Group, Inc.
Just wanted to drop a line and say your covers rock! If they don't like them on some silly-ass moral stance then f — k ‘em! Maybe they should tell their kids the truth some time. Keep it coming.
Mark Teague, stage manager
Schwartz Center for Performing Arts
I was perusing your July issue when I came to the BLMC piece [p. 13]. While I was surprised to see a picture of my good friend Donna Frankel and myself, I was astonished to discover that we were married. Now, I know I had a good time at the event, but I didn't think I had that good a time. I mean, you'd think I'd remember something as momentous as a wedding, right? For whatever it's worth, Donna and I are both single and neither of us have any plans on changing that status.
However, given the marital status your magazine has bestowed upon us, we feel it our duty to register somewhere and give those that wish to recognize the event an opportunity to do so. Toward that end, we are herewith registering ourselves at The ESTA Foundation's Behind the Scenes program. Those of you who feel so inclined may make a donation to this worthy cause in our names. Just make sure you spell them right.
-Bill Sapsis, president
I have known Bill Sapsis for over, gulp, 20 years. We have worked together, traveled together, and forged an amazing relationship. I am proud to be his friend. I am not, however, nor have I ever been, his wife (hence the 20+ year relationship).
As women have come so far in this profession and our society, I can only assume that the writer of the caption had been given faulty information and not that the unidentified woman with Bill Sapsis was assumed to be his wife.
Nonetheless, please see the Sapsis letter regarding honorary contributions to Behind The Scenes.