Oct 30, 2008

Controversy Is Always a Winner

That is, until you have to give away the free tickets:

Due to a recent controversy that has erupted over one of the plays in the production of SPIN, currently on stage at the Cherry Lane Theatre, the stageFARM has announced that it will offer a limited number of free tickets to performances of the show to Britney Spears fans who will be in the New York area next week (through November 8). The playwright, Gina Gionfriddo, will also participate in a post-performance talkback on Wednesday, November 5.

Searching for signs of this reported fracas, I looked (admittedly briefly) online, with the keywords "Britney Spears Iraq spin," and I did find this infamous moment...from five years ago. The press release I received goes into more detail:
One of the works in this new series of commissioned short plays, “America’s Got Tragedy” by Ms. Gionfriddo, depicts the pop princess in a fantasy setting: on the set of a reality TV show in which she competes against a dead American soldier who was recently killed in Iraq. The winner must prove their story is most tragic. Dreama Walker (“Gossip Girls”) portrays Ms. Spears on stage.

The premise reminds me of that ghoulishly funny Curb Your Enthusiasm with the dueling "survivors"--one of the Holocaust, the other of the reality show. But I digress. Here's where the "controversy" comes in:

In emails to the stageFARM office, Spears’ fans have objected to the supposedly negative and inaccurate portrayal of their favorite female idol, according to the company’s Executive Director, Carrie Shaltz. Ms. Gionfriddo counters that “I'm a huge Britney fan. I wrote the play to comment on the dwindling news coverage of the war and the way in which--I think--Britney was demonized and exploited by a media that should have paid more attention to the troops. I would love to have a dialogue with fellow fans about my play. Their response is interesting to me because my play has won so many Britney converts during the run. My hope is that it functions as a humanizing corrective to Britney-bashing rather than a jump on the ugly bandwagon.” Hence, in the spirit of understanding and reconciliation, the offer of freebies.

I pass on this information to any Britney fans among my readers: to reserve your complimentary tickets for a performance of Spin, Nov. 3–8, 8 p.m., email Carrie Shaltz at carrie@thestagefarm.org.

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