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Gov’t-Funded Theater Company Puts on Porn Play | Washington Free Beacon

Radical leftist theater group has received $944,177 from taxpayers

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The curtain closed on Pretty Filthy, a musical about the “human side of the porn industry,” on Sunday night, the latest play from a theater company that has received nearly $1 million from U.S. taxpayers.

The Civilians, an “investigative theater” group based in New York, has put on several plays financed by the federal government, including a global warming musical, and a play about a socialist Paris commune in the 19th century.

Pretty Filthy, the newest production from writer director Steve Cosson and composer Michael Friedman, was the “untold showbiz musical, based on interviews with adult entertainers.”

“Armed with their notepads and recorders, The Civilians crossed the mountain range that divides Hollywood from the ‘other Hollywood’—the San Fernando Valley, world capital of porn,” the play’s website states. “The artists conducted interviews and visited sets to get an insider’s glimpse into a world that is far more than the sum of its (very) visible parts.”

“The Civilians’ time in the Valley captured a singular time in our culture; this digital era that’s radically transformed the business of sex,” it said. “Pretty Filthy is ultimately a story about trying to make a life and a living in an ever-changing world—a task that’s all the more complicated when your work is so intimately tied to customer ‘satisfaction.’”

While no taxpayer funds went toward the porn play, the Civilians has received numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), totaling $944,177.

Cosson recently was awarded $15,000 from the NEA for a new play entitled, “The End and The Beginning,” which will be based on interviews about death and dying, and last year the Civilians received $20,000 for their “cabaret and podcast series.”

That series, “Let Me Ascertain You,” has featured podcasts on the LGBTQ community, celebrating “stories as diverse as a teenage lesbian shunned by her Jehovah’s Witness community, a master domination top who locks people up in his basement, a gay military soldier who attempted suicide, and the life of homeless gay youth on the streets of New York City.”

The latest podcast was entitled, “F*cking and Dying, Part IV.”

The company received a $12,000 NEA grant from January 2013 till June 2014 to support new plays from the Civilian’s Research and Development Group.

Projects for this year’s R&D group, a component of the Civilians, include works by Mike Brun, a composer who is featured on a podcast entitled, “F***! I’m in my Twenties,” and Juliana Francis-Kelly, a playwright, actor, and writer who “also builds dolls.”

Winter Miller, a playwright, is working on an R&D project about the “stigma” of abortion.

“The debate over reproductive freedom is nuts; the semantics of language about when life begins has confounded an entire populace and led to the murder of doctors and the growth of extremist movements in the United States, of which the Tea Party is the least overtly violent,” a description of her project states. “Expect a non-linear madhouse of a play that criss-crosses the time and space continuum of the dead and the living—whatever that really means. Let’s make some art.”

A project by Rob Handel is described as, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, Chelsea Manning walks into mine.”

The Civilians also attempted to provide an “oral history” of Occupy Wall Street, which they called “a movement that changed the world.” The group produced a video about the movement and a song, “We are the 99 percent.”

The theater company told the Washington Free Beacon that no taxpayer funds went toward the Occupy or porn projects, but did not return a request for additional comment.

The group raised $28,000 on Kickstarter to finance the project.

However, through 2013 the NEA provided $25,000 to Cosson and Friedman to produce a musical on the “Paris Commune,” which, according to Marxist.com, was “one of the greatest and most inspiring episodes in the history of the working class.”

“Arguably the first socialist revolution in Europe, it was an anarchic festival of the underclass,” the Civilians say in a video about the utopian commune that had to be crushed by the French government in May 1871.

“In its short 70-day life, the Commune attempted to reinvent every aspect of modern life, from labor to the status of women,” they said. “And while the Commune was violently defeated, its legacy inspired a century of revolution and change.”

Friedman noted that women led the revolution, including Elisabeth Dmitrieff, which he credited with “bringing in Karl Marx’s teaching.”

Cosson saw similarities between the socialist commune and Occupy Wall Street.

“So much of what was contentious in the Commune was the exact same questions were coming up in Occupy,” the director said. “I think the idea I want the audience leave the theater with is this recognition that it is an ongoing story. There is no endpoint to society.”

Overall, the Civilians has received $247,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) since 2007, including $65,000 for The Great Immensity, a song and dance show about the dangers of climate change, also written and produced by Cosson and Friedman. The majority of the project was funded by a NSF grant worth $697,177.

The global warming musical was cancelled after only a three-week run, amid bad reviews.

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