BY DOTTIE ASHLEY
“Fun Home,” a “graphic” memoir, meaning it was presented in comic-strip style drawings) was declared by the South Carolina legislature to be “indecent and inappropriate” as recommended reading for the class of 2013 incoming freshman, who wished to participate in “College Reads,” a (non-mandatory) literary discussion program.
Consequently, after receiving exactly ONE complaint from a parent regarding the subject of lesbian sex in “Fun Home,” the legislature ordered the college to return the $58,000 that had been earlier allotted to partially defray the cost of purchasing the book. However, after a barrage of public criticism, the lawmakers, most of whom, as it turned out, hadn’t even read the offending book, ruled that the college could keep a portion of the money, on the condition that “College Reads,” would teach the U.S. Constitution to the freshmen.
However, since “Fun Home,” described by “Slate” as “the first mainstream play about a young lesbian,” had been adapted into a stage musical being performed Off-Broadway, the college’s School of the Arts, headed by the school’s fearless dean Valerie Morris, raised the funds to bring the entire cast of “Fun Home” to Charleston for two concert-versions which were staged in a matinee and an evening performance on April 21, 2014 in first-come first served performances in Memminger Auditorium. The producers also agreed to to present to show for a cost-only fee.
Because the controversy was covered by the national press, the word reached New York, where, the producers were able to generate funds for a Broadway production. Before transferring and after receiving an extended run, “Fun Home” won scores of awards and was named a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for drama.
On April 19, 2015, “Fun Home” opened on Broadway at Circle in the Square theater to rave reviews, and on April 28, when nominees for the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards were announced by the Broadway League, “Fun Home” received 12 nominations for a 2015 Tony Award, including one for Best Musical. So in trying to stop a creative piece, the SC legislature actually ended up giving it the widest most glorious exposure. As Aristotle once said about Oedipus,”In order to avoid his fate, he fulfilled it.”