America Needs Fatima’s protest of the scheduled June 10-July 4 showing of the blasphemous play, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, in Austin, Texas is starting to have effect.
Andy Berkovsky, Producing Artistic Director of the City Theatre, released an update (dated May 12) on the theater’s website acknowledging receipt of hundreds of protest emails.
One news item from the Austin On Stage website described the campaign as, “a wave of threatening emails and phone calls that plagued The City Theatre this past weekend.”
Another article, echoes the same dubious description of “threats”. A report told readers that “angry calls and e-mails” have flooded the small theatre. In that report, Jeff Hinkle, who sits on the Board of Directors for City Theatre said, “We didn’t anticipate it being scandalous. We’ve been getting continuous calls, one after the other.”
He explained further: “Most are upset because they said the play refers to the Virgin Mary as a lesbian. One e-mail said, ‘To refer to her as a lesbian, or even insinuate it, is an unspeakable blasphemy, which I reject with all my soul.’”
However, the questionable claim of the protest posing as a threat elicited reactions from some on-line readers.
M.E. writes: “Since when is a peaceful and legal protest a threat? Your opening makes it sound like the place is under physical attack. Not exactly objective journalism. It's also odd that the playwright thinks people must pay to view his play before forming an opinion about it. The script can be found online and read for free!”
T.S. challenges one writer: “…. The onus is on YOU to demonstrate that viable threats have indeed been made, as you are the one making the claim. Perhaps the City Theatre has actually been threatened, but nothing in your article evinces this.”
C reacts: “Why do promoters/directors/etc state death threats are being made? If so, contact police. ..What if a church promotes and directs a play making fun of gays? Whow! They would face a wide range of threats and be call haters!”
Despite the controversy, Artistic Director Andy Berkovsky tells Austin On Stage that he does not intend to bow to the “threats” and urges people to see the blasphemous play.
Meanwhile Carl Matthews from the online magazine LA Progressive called and informed theater management that he did a research on America Needs Fatima and wrote an article about the campaign.
However, his investigation fell short as he couldn’t even get ANF director Mr. Robert E. Ritchie’s name right by citing him as Robert E. Reich.
He took pains to portray ANF in a bad light, straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel in the process, by insinuating that it is a money-making venture. One revealing fact stood out, in the piece, however. He wrote, “Andy [Berkovsky] told me that, within the first week of the “Defend My Mother” mailing, TCT [The City Theater] received over 5,000 e-mails, hundreds of pre-printed postcards and telephone calls.”