Those who like musicals will know that Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun has one of the great scores.Well, not in the latest production:
But as the show ended, something niggled. I was sure that the score also contained a song called "I'm an Indian Too". But the number, sung by Annie Oakley when she is adopted by Chief Sitting Bull into the Sioux tribe, had been cut.Yes, the people keen to whitewash history and airbrush actors who smoke out of thhe picture have moved their ambitions to the stage too.
Why? Because 'audiences want it', apparently:
David Lan, the artistic director of this excellent, innovative and challenging theatre, tells me that the song is an "unpleasant" one, that "although the song has many good qualities, it is hard to present to a modern audience whose awareness of racism and cultural sensitivities has shifted since the song was written".Which is just about the weakest excuse to remove a song from a show ever, but at least he didn't lie that it was for 'running time' reasons.
Which is a sign of just how confident these people are that they are unassailable:
Why do artistic directors assume that we can't cope, that their audiences don't have the wit and imagination to accept that these songs were written in a different age, an age of different sensibilities, that we listen knowing that, and indeed are curious to know what people were writing then and what audiences were listening to.Yes. It is.
Isn't it somewhat condescending of artistic directors to decide what will and what will not offend our sensibilities?
It's a dangerous game, this censorship on behalf of what you assume are the sensibilities of the audience. After, all there is a playwright who wrote one play about a Jewish man who demanded a pound of flesh, and another play about a black man with uncontrollable rages, who strangled his white wife. Modern sensibilities may shrink at that. But I don't think we should ban him. Not even at the Young Vic.Give them time, David. Give them time...