Tom Strini
Update 8/23

Show goes on despite radio bullies

This Just In: The show will go on, starting Aug. 31 at Next Act Theatre.

By - Aug 22nd, 2012 05:47 pm

Update Friday Aug. 23: Phantom Cicada Theatre will stage The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) at Next Act Theatre in Milwaukee eight times from Friday, Aug. 31, through Sunday, Sept. 9. Tickets are $15 through Brown Paper Tickets, or call the Next Act box office, 414  278-0765. Now, theater community, since you got all up in arms over this, shouldn’t you all turn out for the show?


A bizarre theater controversy is boiling in the western burbs. But first, a little background.

In 1981, a few guys calling themselves the Reduced Shakespeare Company cooked up The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged). It’s very stupid, very silly and very funny. RSC subjected The Bard to satire, but satire of an affectionate sort.


But it looks so peaceful and idyllic…

Following the success of Shakespeare, the RSC cooked up The Complete History of America (abridged), The Complete Millennium Musical (abridged), All the Great Books (abridged) and, 17 years ago, The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged). These bon-bons have been published and produced by many companies all over the world. They are innocuous and have never stirred controversy.

Until now. Brian Faracy was preparing to put on Complete Word of God as one component of  SummerStage, an outdoor series at an amphitheater at Lapham Peak State Park. Then a local Christian demagogue decided this toothless little show is Satan’s own work and started yelling about it on his radio station. Then another right-wing radio loudmouth took it up. (I won’t give names or call letters, because listening to these guys rots your brain and because vain people love attention above all.) The DNR caved, kicked the show out of the park, and now the production is in jeopardy.

Faracy thought about moving it to the Delafield Arts Center, but then…


Brainwashed radio listener being instructed to harass theater producer. (Artist’s conception.)

“The kooky calls began when word leaked out that we might go there,” Faracy said, in a phone interview Wednesday. Now the DAC is off the table, because the space is barely adequate in any case and he couldn’t bear to subject center staff to harassment from religious fanatics.

“The whole experience has been like an absurdist play,” Faracy said. “I was sympathetic with the DNR. All these crazy people were hounding them.”

Faracy found the performance space at Lapham Peak in 2005, proposed a summer series to the DNR and organized a board to raise funds to build some infrastructure and book attractions. They launched in 2006. Faracy is off the board now, but SummerStage contracted with his Phantom Cicada Theater to put on one show, as it has in recent summers. Do note that this is a break-even labor of love for everyone out there. Faracy has a day job in financial services and a mortgage and family to go with it. He just loves theater and “likes to write checks to actors,” most of whom have been area pros known to Milwaukee audiences.

“We’re supposed to open in a week and a half,” Faracy said, “and we don’t have a venue. It doesn’t look good. These idiots have caused financial hardship for the actors and for SummerStage. One of these days, I would like to shake things up and do a controversial play. But this isn’t it.””

You know how Americans shake their heads when Muslim extremists in foreign lands supress music or comics or novels? Well, it can happen here, and with perpetrators who call themselves Christians — and over a script that’s lighter than air. I do hope Faracy gets to put on his show, even if for one night with a pass-the-hat business model. I hate it when bullies get their way.

Categories: A/C Feature 2, Theater

0 thoughts on “Update 8/23: Show goes on despite radio bullies”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well said! I’m sure the theatre community would chip in to fund this venture should a virtual ‘hat’ be presented online.

  2. Anonymous says:

    They didn’t just “push around” theatre geeks. They petitioned the DNR, a government agency, into shutting down a production because they were offended by it’s content. And the government obliged. That, friends, is censorship, and a violation of the Fist Amendment right to free speech. An appropriate action would have been for the protestors to encourage a boycott of the show, to convince friends to refuse to attend the show/purchase tickets. Citizens are free to attend or not attend as they see fit. Shutting down the entire production is a disgrace, and the DNR made a HUGE mistake in caving to that demand. “If I don’t want to hear it, you can’t say it” is about as UnAmerican as it gets.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As a Christian, I’m embarrassed. The show isn’t blasphemy, it’s entertainment. How about looking at it this way: It could be used as a ministry…someone who sees the show but has no knowledge of the bible can come away with healthy questions and…read the bible to get the answers. I hope they can find a venue. This is ridiculous. And shame on the DNR for caving. I’d like to address the line in the article about bullies getting their way. The boycott of Palermos, the democratic senators who fled to IL to bring the state to a halt, and the attempted recall were all let by bullies. Please apply your disgust of bully tactics to all circjmstances

  4. Anonymous says:

    The Bible.

    Written by Jews.

    Edited by Catholics.

    Translated by Anglicans.

    Banned by Protestants?

    It’s a pretty fragile religion that can’t withstand the reading of it’s own canon out of context.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Religious intolerance. Like aiming the artillery at the Buddahs in Afghanistan and blowing them to bits. Or all the other righteous know it all believers whose precious delusions have been subjected to the scrutiny of a laugh. We now cower and run. Joe McCarthy died almost 60 years ago. I guess his ghost has come back for a shot and beer.

  6. Anonymous says:

    To quote the late Rose Pickering, “Is America ready for self-government?” Where are the grown-ups in this controversy? Furthermore I bloody well resent the term ‘theatre geeks’ in the first place, especially as it is employed by those who seem to be championing Mr. Faracy’s attempt to bring some fun and satire to the park. Throughout the history of western civilization artists have, in many vital ways, hewn a pathway for the people to follow in pursuit of the light. Architects in the van, then musicians, actors, sculptors, chefs, dancers, painters, and on down the line. Why in hell–on account of paranoia, fear, or sheer intellectual laziness–we cannot, as a society, practice assimilation instead of elimination is, to any thinking individual, utterly baffling. I suppose we get the government we deserve if we continue to tolerate small-mindednes and prejudice among the powerful. Oh, yes, Mr. Kishline. Tail-gunner Joe never really died. His spirit merely fulminated under ground until Wisconsin policitics attained the critical balance of yokelism necessary to its resuscitation.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This show will go on. Rest assured it will go on. We live in a pluralist, secularist democracy and people of reason and good will know what it takes to maintain that agreement. Stay tuned and please be prepared to spread the word a soon as a space is secured. I’m the director, btw, and I am soooooo amazed by this crap.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I knew this story would open up the entry way to ripping ‘Christians’. And I was right.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wow! I haven’t read any “ripping of Christians” here. I see thoughtful and frustrated dialogue.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I knew this comment section would open up the entry way to ‘Christians’ who feel victimized and besieged for no reason. And I was right.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Good Mornin’ Seth,

    I noticed your quotes around ‘Christian’. I’m grateful for that distinction, because as one who believes Christ died for my sins, I’m sensitive to those who would impose their understanding of God upon others through government bureaucracy, be it either through inclusion, exclusion or ommision.

    This play is an opportunity – to discuss the reverent through irreverence. Comedy is a tool for understanding, and I’m hoping the cast and crew can find a new venue and make this happen.

    I believe Christianity can survive this examination, despite the protests of some of its adherents.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Chris, my point is simply this. I find it hypocritical that those who claim to be open minded never have a problem complaining about the feelings of those in the Christian community. However if this play mocked any other religion (minus The Jewish faith) these same open-minded individuals would be outraged. That’s all. Like any other play production people have the right to see it or not. They have the right to like it or dislike it. I will always find it interesting that the two religions in which this country’s laws were based upon, are the two religions that are allowed to be mocked without any consequences or backlash.

  13. Anonymous says:

    In my comment ‘policitics’ should have been ‘politics.’ Maybe I’ve invented the term which describes what occurs when political posturing is employed as policy. In any case, that sort of crap should be policed….

  14. Anonymous says:

    Jesus was probably a great guy. It’s his fans that scare me.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Charles Schulz often inserted biblical passages and allusions into his comic strip “Peanuts.” I suppose these right-wing wackos would be outraged by him too.

  16. Anonymous says:

    “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” — Ben Franklin

    “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.”
    ― Abraham Lincoln

    “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”
    ― Thomas Jefferson

    “As government expands, liberty contracts.”
    ― Ronald Reagan

    “Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.”
    ― G.K. Chesterton

    “It is a strange desire, to seek power, and to lose liberty; or to seek power over others, and to lose power over a man’s self.”
    ― Francis Bacon

  17. Anonymous says:

    Seth, I think you’ve got two things wrong here. One, people don’t have the right to see or not see the play, because the religious group is keeping people from that right. And two, this country was not founded on any religion. It was founded on the idea of no religious laws being made into civil law. That’s why it says that in the Constitution…Congress shall make no law respecting religion. Why would you say we are founded on Christianity and Judiasm?

    I’ve been a huge fan of the Reduced Shakespeare Company for years, and I’ve been a Christian nearly my whole life. I have never seen anything in The Complete Work of God (Abridged) that maliciously mocked my faith. It’s funny and light-hearted, and isn’t meant as a criticism at all. It’s literally just a play that tries to act out the whole Bible in record time, like a race gone terribly wrong. You should try watching it sometime.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I am deeply concerned by this. Unfortunately due to the drama, in this outcome, the company is the “tragic HERO” and the people that are opposing are the “comic FOOLS”.

    If you do not know what these two terms mean then really you have no reason to criticize theatre. It’s ironic that they have made themselves into FOOLS by the way they reacted. The conservatives instead should have let it be and the theatre would have put into use the basics of comedic theatre and present a COMEDIC fool in the staging of their comedy. By resisting a change that the theatre is bringing upon them and choosing to just not go to the show they could of remained a tragic hero and remain exiled from this theatre.

    No one ever criticized the MIRACLE THEATRE for their Religious Musicals or Sight and Sound, they were in fact praised and embraced as new ways to help bring more people the joy of the performing arts. EDUCATE YOURSELVES before you try to impose your beliefs around you, LET GOD BE THE JUDGE. You have no right to judge others and may God have MERCY on your soul for the hatred, pain and injury you cause to those that believe in him and follow his footsteps and live life with GRACE! This is a very saddening article.

  19. Anonymous says:

    lmao. non violent christians did to a summer stage play what was called for to happen to chik-fil-a, and which totally backfired.
    thats hysterical.
    maybe gay activists can learn something from christians???
    seriously tho, you have to love the quote where Faracy said he canceled the thing because “he couldn’t bear to subject center staff to harassment from religious fanatics.” and “All these crazy people were hounding them.”
    the article mentions two calls to a radio station.

  20. Anonymous says:

    great comment

  21. Anonymous says:

    Gee, mikeA…I don’t remember anybody preventing people from eating at Chick-Fil-A. This evangelist, on the other hand, is preventing people from seeing this play. Spot the difference.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Seth, it is interesting, and it has given me pause for thought.

    My counterpoint would be this – We live in a country and are governed by those who, by and large, claim Christianity as their faith.

    One of the strongest arguments that Christians press is that we are a Christian nation. A poll I saw indicates 3 out of 4 Americans identify themselves as Christians.

    So when we lampoon Christianity, we’re either mocking ourselves or ridiculing the status quo, both of which are always fair game in literature and the arts.

    So yes, I too believe that there is a double standard in play, and I openly embrace it. I think it’s perfectly fine to laugh in the mirror. I don’t think it’s okay to laugh out the window at the neighbors we don’t understand.

  23. Anonymous says:

    He’s paraphrasing: Gandhi said it first.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Amanda is right, the DNR should not caved to the weakest minds in all of suburbia. And the unnamed radio axe-grinders showed themselves, AGAIN, for what they truly are: liars and lousy Americans.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Tickets are now on sale, as the venue has been changed to Next Act Theatre. Show you support the freedom of speech and freedom of expression, and buy a ticket for the show:

  26. Anonymous says:

    Well said.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I hope you have an open mind and learn a little. See the show, or read the script. There is nothing in it that attacks Christianity or any religion. In fact, very little of it has anything to do with Christianity. Most of the play is based on the Old Testament. This was prior to there being Christianity. The Old Testament is the basis for all of the Abrahamic religions, so there is no way to even try to apply the show to Christianity.

  28. Anonymous says:

    OK, folks, enough chat. Now we start the Freedom party.
    Buy your $15 tickets, come grab a beer, and fill Brian’s 8 performances to the Next Act rafters.
    “The best response to censorship is BOX OFFICE.” (Cicero, ca. the olden days.)
    Come for the Fun…stay for the Freedom of Speech.
    (Contact information above.)
    See you in the Land of the Free, 255 S. Water Street.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Hello, Mickle Maher! Thanks for chiming in. We love your plays here in Milwaukee.

  30. Anonymous says:

    First off; I’m a Christian. Second, I have performed several Reduced Shakespeare Company shows. I’m always amazed at how fear-based some Christians are, so afraid that God, the almighty graceful omnipotent loving father of everything ever will somehow be threatened by a little play. Anyone who thinks they have to defend God clearly doesn’t think God has that much power. He’s done pretty well defending himself for the last 2,000 years. Last I checked, Christianity is the most popular religion in the world and it’s still growing, especially in Asia. Which of course raises the true issue… the right-wing blowhard who started bloviating about this show has obviously never seen or read it… his criticism is not based on knowledge, facts, faith, or anything else but filling time making listeners angry so they stay tuned in and support his sponsors. To me, this script actually CELEBRATES faith. It HONORS Jesus’ sacrifice. Two of the Three characters in the play are true believers, and the third is an appreciative agnostic. In fact, this show has been healing to people that suffered spiritual abuse at the hands of pastoral demagogues. So I say use all this publicity to put on the funniest show you can! Who is showing more grace in this situation, those who claim to be “in the right,” trying to shut down something that makes people laugh, or those who persevere in the face of suffering? Who do you think the biblical Jesus would side with? Break a leg!!!!

  31. Anonymous says:

    Well said. As I pointed out in my earlier comment, this show could be seen as a ministry tool. And in fact, VCY just helped spread the word about the show. Ij the end, maybe a Thank You would be order? I predict a sold-out run! I truly believe that there will be positive changes in some patrons’ lives, if nothing more than awaken a curiosity, leading to healthy questions and seeking the answers in the bible. God is good! Prayers for the cast & crew!

  32. Anonymous says:

    To all my friends upset about the cancellation of “The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged)” at Lapham State Park…let’s pause take a breath here. We need to realize that the issue is not about whether the play has merit, whether the religious protestors are being hyper-fanatical or the overall unfairness of judging something without even seeing it. I agree with all of the above. I saw the
    show a few years back at the Cabot Theatre and it was hilarious. But we must consider the venue. This is not about the play as much as it is about the use of public space. We are quick to argue about nativity scenes and ten commandments posted at public courthouses. This is no different. The park is a public space paid for by the tax dollars of us all; Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Druid, Atheist and Agnostic. And as such, it must remain a secular space. Without religious affiliation or opinion. Public space is where we come together based on our one and only common element: our citizenship. I’d cringe to see nativities or crucifixion re-enactments going on as I try to hike or ski the trails in the park. It’s about respect. “No, I don’t agree with what you preach and practice, but I respect your right to do so.” People take their religious beliefs very seriously, and we have to be careful not to rub their noses in something that we feel is harmless. It may be to us, but it doesn’t speak for all. If people were trying to shut down the show in a private venue like the Cabot or Next Act, they would surely find my size tens pretty far up their nether regions. But this is public. It’s a slippery slope, but in the end this is about respect.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Thought you might be interested:

    Sanctimony, Censorship and Spin ~ A Forum in Lake Country: Free Speech vs Censorship

    On November 4, 2012 at 4:00pm Lake Country Unitarian Universalist Church in Hartland, WI is hosting a Forum on Free Speech titled: Sanctimony, Censorship and Spin ~ A Forum in Lake Country: Free Speech vs Censorship

    Brian Faracy, producer and actor of the play The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged), will be participating as guest speaker.  Emilio De Torre, Director of Youth & Programs at ACLU of Wisconsin, will acting as moderator.  Free will donations for the ACLU Foundation of Wisconsin will be collected at the door.

    We can be followed on facebook at:
    Our facebook event page is:

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