Play Director Defends Nudity On GRCC Stage

Posted at 8:55 PM, Oct 22, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-23 05:29:43-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — A theatrical performance at Grand Rapids Community College is receiving criticism from some community members and a concerned board trustee for its controversial nature that included a nude actor on stage.

Actors’ Theater put on a production of “Love! Valour! Compassion!” at the Spectrum Theater on GRCC’s campus, and during a board meeting Monday night one of the board members said the group’s funding should be taken away.

The show is a Tony Award-winning play that tackles issues like homophobia and AIDS, but two scenes in the play are stirring up controversy.  In the show, an actor removes his clothing and is fully nude on stage.

“It is written that the actor is nude in that scene, and we here at Actors’ strive really hard to produce theater as it is written,” said Jolene Frankey, director of the play. “We do not censor it. We do not edit it.”

Bert Bleke, chair of GRCC Board of Trustees, says one member believes the nude scene crossed a line and doesn’t think it’s something tax money should be funding. “Every board member is entitled to their opinion, and I think we need to honor that,” said Bleke.

Bleke added that the debate over nudity in the arts is nothing new in West Michigan.  The board will take several factors into consideration during budget talks, including whether to fund the theater group again next year, with or without this latest controversy, he said.  Each program is analyzed every year on how it helps students and whether the school can afford to fund it.