Wish I had the time to give a detailed account of the wonderful conversation I helped facilitate this Wednesday night at Jane Friedman's lovely home on Sutton Place.
I was invited by the National Coalition Against Censorship to lead a discussion with (sitting, from left) David Henry Hwang, Edward Albee, Terrence McNally and Adam Rapp. Joan Bertin, Executive Director of the NCAC is to my left, and Jane Friedman is standing on the far right.
Suffice to say there was plenty to discuss. The topics ranged from censorship of the marketplace to actual governmental suppression of artists. McNally discussed the Catholic outrage over Corpus Christi and Rapp recalled having one of his novels banned at a Pennsylvania high school, which inspired his recent drama, The Metal Children. Albee adopted a contrarian but witty pose, arguing that our culture tends to reward mediocre art—in effect, censoring excellence, rigor and complexity. Hwang discussed the pressure he has felt from members of the Asian community to create positive portrayals of their community.
Of course, there were so many more questions I wanted to ask, but time was limited. Go to the NCAC site for more information about their battles for free speech and unfettered artistic expression. Censorship happens more often and in more places than you'd ever expect.