Smoking in the Theater- Terry Morris uses as a crib sheet.

Today’s DDN has a long (by their new “McNews” format) about the smoking ban- and its application to theater productions. It’s the same issue we protested outside Moonlight and Magnolias- see “Join my crusade! Smoke Free Theater in Dayton“, and DDN theater critic Terry Morris interviews Marsha Hanna.

Considering Pam Strohmeyer and I protested this issue outside every single production on this same issue- and that I thoroughly addressed the issue on this blog, and that I cited both case of the Irish actor playing Churchill and the cases in Denver that he mentions- I was surprised that there was no mention made of this blog, our protest or what we suggested.

More so- Marsha Hanna, Director of the Human Race Theater Company- still doesn’t seem to get that audiences aren’t so stupid as to be able to imagine that an unlit cigarette works just as well as a lit one as a prop. They don’t drink real booze on stage, they don’t use real guns, and if they use prop guns- it’s not real blood either. It’s simple enough to hold a cigarette in your hand- and pretend to smoke- we, the audience, get it.

Smoke- from tobacco, herbs, or anything else- including cars- is bad for our health. It does not belong indoors at anytime. Marsha Hanna needs to get over her filthy self-destructive habit- and Terry Morris needs to cite his sources and give credit where credit is due.

This is a serious issue, and Ms. Hanna deserves a legitimate spanking in public for her continued whining about her support of smoke inside a theater.

On one other note: The Dublin Pub’s owner, Ray Dixon’s continued whining about the voters choice to go smoke free, is making me less want to patronize his establishment after the new law takes effect. Stop being a whiner Ray. More people don’t smoke, don’t want to stink, don’t want to die from other peoples foul habit- including your employees.

Smoke free will be here Thursday- rejoice!

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1 Response

  1. Pam December 4, 2006 / 8:23 am
    I have written a letter to the editor of the Dayton Daily News about this article. Since I doubt that the paper will run it at all—certainly not in its original form—I am posting it here for anyone who would like to read my unedited comments on this topic.

    To the Editor:

    In October, The Human Race Theatre’s production of Moonlight & Magnolias included a totally gratuitous smoking scene at the end. It added nothing to the play and it wasn’t important to the plot. All it did was glamorize smoking.

    When asked why—since many people are sensitive to smoke—Marsha Hanna defended the scene on the grounds of “artistic freedom”. Several alternatives were suggested that would have accomplished the same dramatic effect. She rejected all of them, possibly because she is a smoker herself.

    I was one of a small group of people (organized by David Esrati) who took advantage of the timeliness of the production of Moonlight and Magnolias to raise awareness for Smoke-Free Ohio. We stood outside before each performance in a peaceful and good-natured protest. We handed out anti-smoking propaganda aimed at Ms. Hanna’s decision, and reminded people to vote No on 4/Yes on 5.

    This wasn’t a boycott. In fact, we told people that it was a great show (except for the smoking part). If anything, we generated extra publicity for the play. Our goal was just to create some social pressure to show smokers that lighting up in public places is not acceptable.

    Apparently, some people still disagree. In Sunday’s Life Section cover story, Ms. Hanna asserts that it will take time for audiences to accept alternatives to real smoking onstage “without laughing.”

    That’s ridiculous. If members of the audience couldn’t use their imaginations and suspend disbelief, theater wouldn’t even exist! Does Ms. Hanna think that each time a boy stepped onstage at the Globe as Juliet, the audience was too busy laughing to listen to the balcony scene? Please.

    To make your article more balanced, you might have mentioned that this debate was going on in our community even before the election. You might have also gotten opinions from both sides.

    Since you didn’t, one has to wonder if it’s because Esrati is an outspoken critic of the Dayton Daily News. But it seems that you did purloin some of your material from his website: Certain things in the article have been posted on since October.

    Instead of offering all the perspectives on this issue, your article reads like a nostalgia piece for the good old days when actors could smoke onstage, unhindered by pesky laws.

    You mentioned several film icons who smoked on screen (and in real life). But you neglected to mention that Humphrey Bogart died of esophageal cancer, Sammy Davis Jr. died of throat cancer, Dean Martin died of respiratory failure (caused by emphysema and lung cancer), and Audrey Hepburn died of colorectal cancer. Smoking is known to cause all of these diseases.

    Since these film legends smoked when the script called for it, can we say they died for their art? Hardly. Their deaths weren’t that “noble” or purposeful; they simply died from their addiction to tobacco. And who knows how many nonsmokers they killed with their secondhand smoke.

    Creative license and freedom of speech are important, but your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins. Theater-goers who pay 35 dollars to see a play have a right not to be assaulted by secondhand smoke.

    I sincerely doubt that anyone in the audience will laugh or object if Ms. Hanna eliminates real smoke from her plays.

    Pam Strohmeyer, RN

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