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The Observer Paper 09/29/14

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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow PLAY FRAY

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PLAY FRAY

The continuing debate involving “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,’’ the play banned at La Grande High School because of its adult content, has a new twist.

Entertainer Steve Martin, the play’s author, is stepping into the picture.

Martin is offering to pay the cost of producing the play off La Grande High School’s campus. He is making his offer in a letter to the La Grande community, which appears on Page 4A of today’s Observer.

Martin’s offer would cover the cost of producing “Picasso at the Lapin Agile’’ at EOU’s McKenzie Theatre. Eastern recently granted permission for the EOU Student Democrats to host the play at Loso Hall’s McKenzie Theatre. The play is set to run May 16-18.

Martin stands up for his work in his letter.

“He is trying to defend the reputation of his play,’’ said Kevin Cahill, the play’s director and a French and English teacher at LHS. “The letter expresses his interest in seeing the production go on. He simply wants the play fairly represented.’’

“Picasso at the Lapin Agile’’ was banned from the LHS campus Feb. 20 by La Grande School District Superintendent Larry Glaze because of its adult content. Glaze made his decision after receiving a written complaint from a La Grande parent that was accompanied by a petition signed by 137 community members.

An appeal of Glaze’s decision was denied by the La Grande School Board, which upheld the superintendent’s ruling at a Feb. 25 school board meeting attended by about 300.

Martin, who wrote “Picasso at the Lapin Agile’’ in 1993, learned about the controversy online, said Alan Nierob of Los Angeles, Martin’s publicist. Nierob said Martin does not know of any other place his play has been banned.

Martin was not available to be interviewed.

“Picasso at the Lapin Agile’’ is about a meeting between Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso in 1904 at a bar in France, just before each produced their greatest works.

Martin has attended some productions of his play. The entertainer will not be able to attend any of the the May productions in La Grande, though, Nierob said.

Cahill said he believes Martin is stepping forward to ensure his play’s production in La Grande because he wants people to see it in its full context, one he says would lay to rest misconceptions.

“He believes it is being unfairly characterized and stereotyped,’’ said Cahill, who has not communicated with Martin but has read the letter.

The money Martin donates for the production of his play in La Grande will be an addition to the funds the EOU Student Democrats are raising for it. If more money is donated than what is needed for the production, the additional money will go to a scholarship fund the EOU Democrats have started for thespian students at Eastern from La Grande High School.

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