I just heard back from Marsha Hanna, Artistic Director and Smoker in charge, of the Human Race Theater Company- she sees no reason to eliminate the final lighting of a cigarette in “Moonlight and Magnolias.”
I say it’s totally unacceptable and glamorizes a filthy habit.
I’ve proposed not lighting the cigarette- after all, the actors aren’t drinking real booze, using real guns- or having rain on stage when an umbrella and the sound of rain works.
The scene could just as easily be played by any actor worth his salt, by just kicking his feet up on the desk, with hands behind the head. But, Marsha says the real character was a chain smoker. Well then, why didn’t he smoke at any other time during the play- which was the story of being locked in a room for a week to rewrite the script for “Gone with the Wind”?
So- tonight between 7:15 and 8pm- I plan to be on the street in front of the Loft- with a sandwich board- and passing out ballots to patrons asking if they think a lit cigarette really is absolutely needed to end a side-splitting play.
If you’d like to join me in my crusade- I’d appreciate the company. I’ve sent an e-mail to the Board members I know- and am hoping the Board takes a stand for a smoke free theater production of “Moonlight and Magnolias” tonight.
Please feel free to add your comments below.
Or send Marsha an e-mail: [email protected]
Here is a link to a printable “ballot” like the jpg image above: Printable PDF of the Ballot against smoking on stage
THE PRESS RELEASE:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
29 Sept 2006
CRUSADE AGAINST GLAMOURIZING SMOKING IN THEATERS
DAYTON: They call themselves â€œThe Human Race Theatre Companyâ€ and tonight they open their production of â€œMoonlight and Magnoliasâ€ at 8pm. Standing outside, will be a hastily organized group of protesters asking Artistic Director Marsha Hanna to kick her habit of having actors light up on stage- as the main character in this play does in the very last seconds of the play. The protest will run from 7:15 till 8pm in front of The Loft Theater, 126 N. Main Street Dayton.
Esrati attended a preview on Wednesday and thought the play was amazing, fantastically acted and performed and side-splitting funny, all up to the scene where the character lights a cigarette. â€œThere was no reason to introduce smoking into the story- we had just witnessed a â€œweek in the lifeâ€ of this character- where he never once lit up, or mentioned cigarettes even though he was locked in a room with two other lunatics trying to re-write the script to â€œGone with the Windâ€ says Esrati who is a strong proponent of making Ohio a smoke-free state. â€œThe actor’s action glamorizes smoking for no good reason, and could easily be taken out of the play without changing the nature of the play- simply putting his feet on the desk and hands behind his head- with a sigh, would accomplish the exact same thing.â€
Artistic Director Hanna, a smoker, disagrees, saying that the character in real life was a chain smoker. This isn’t the first time these two have had discussions about the need to light a cigarette on stage, Esrati has made the suggestion to explain to the audience in the introduction that they can use their imagination to see smoke, in the same way that they have to imagine it’s real booze in the bottles and stage guns aren’t real.
The peaceful protestors will hand out â€œBallotâ€ flyers to patrons asking them to weigh in on the necessity of lighting cigarettes on stage- and to consider asking health sponsors like Premier Health Partners, Humana, First Dayton Orthopedists, Inc and Health Care Interventions, to withhold sponsorship if the Human Race can’t quit smoking on stage.
For more information â€“ contact David Esrati, 937.361.1074 or [email protected]
He wrote about this on his blog: http://esrati.com/?p=145
You can reach the Human Race Theatre Company at 937.461.3823