Scottish theatre company apologises after backlash over ‘cancel culture’ and political correctness play – The Scotsman

Posted: September 29, 2021 at 7:23 am

A Play, a Pie and a Pint (PPP), which has been running at Oran Mor arts centre in Glasgow for 17 years, said it was "truly devastated" and "deeply troubled" at the response of some audience members to Johnny McKnight's new show Joke.

The comedy drama was one of the first new plays to be staged at Oran Mor under PPPs new artistic director Jemima Levick.

The show, which was directed by Levick and created in collaboration with the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow, had been billed as a razor-sharp take on social power and cancel culture.

Best known for his work on contemporary festive pantomimes, McKnight is one of the key writers on River City and has also worked regularly with the National Theatre of Scotland, the Tron Theatre in Glasgow and the Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling.

However, his new play, which starred Ewan Miller, Michael Guest and Laura Lovemore, has been criticised over its depictions of racism.

The company said it had deliberately set out to challenge audience members to examine problems around power, class, racism and white privilege.

It also insisted it had taken advice from a number of people of colour to ensure the themes of racism were "dealt with appropriately within the context of the play".

The company said it had deliberately set out to challenge audience members to examine problems around power, class, racism and white privilege.

It also insisted it had taken advice from a number of people of colour to ensure the themes of racism were "dealt with appropriately within the context of the play."

Staged last week, the play focused on tensions between a factory worker who has recently returned from furlough and his woke manager, the son of the companys wealthy owners, who is investigating claims the employee has breached new guidelines on unacceptable conduct, with the use of language defended on the grounds that it was intended as a joke.

The show was hailed as a sharp, brilliant and beautifully constructed workplace comedy about some of the key dilemmas of the age by The Scotsmans theatre critic Joyce McMillan.

In her five-star review, she described the show as "a play as breathlessly quick-witted as it is hard-hitting and significant.

However, there were claims on social media that some audience members of colour had walked out of the venue in tears.

A statement posted on the companys official Twitter account said: We are deeply troubled to learn that members of our audience were upset by our play Joke.

"Our intention was never to offend, the opposite in fact we set out to create a play which challenged viewers to examine problems around power, class, racism and white privilege in our society, but were truly devastated that in doing so we have caused offence.

"We apologise wholeheartedly to those who left our theatre feeling hurt.

We did take advice in the making of Joke from a number of people of colour, who we worked with specifically to ensure that the themes of racism were dealt with appropriately within the context of the play."

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Scottish theatre company apologises after backlash over 'cancel culture' and political correctness play - The Scotsman

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