On page 20 of the sixth draft of Glyn O'Malley's play-in-progress Paradise is a line that has proved prophetic for this unfairly thwarted playwright: "Point of view is everything."
Spoken by one of the play's five characters, that phrase has never been truer than in recent weeks as test audiences have reacted to O'Malley's play before it has been performed or even completed.
In January, the play was stopped from being performed for Cincinnati high schools by outraged Muslims who deemed the play pro-Zionist. O'Malley and Ed Stern, producing artistic director of the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, which commissioned the play, had invited Muslims, as well as a rabbi and a professor of Middle Eastern studies, for a private reading in hopes of inspiring a constructive exchange. What they got were fiery accusations of racism from the Muslims and intimidation sufficient to force cancellation of the high school tour.
If the purpose of theater is to engage dialogue, O'Malley might feel gratified by the response. People are talking. The problem is they're not saying much that is true. What O'Malley hears and reads about his play these days bears little resemblance to the words he wrote. Or to those I've read.
For example, word now circulating is the play is considered anti-Semitic as well as pro-Zionist