The show goes on as ‘queer’ is banished from gay opera at Bridlington Spa

THE show will go on after a controversial community opera which looked set to be cancelled earlier this week, will go ahead in Bridlington next weekend.

Beached, written by Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall, will continue as planned, according to Opera North.

The project was put in jeopardy earlier this week when Mr Hall, who has penned the libretto for the community show, said he was angered that Bay Primary School, which was providing 300 pupils for the production, had pulled out. Mr Hall claimed the school did not want to go ahead with the show because of the inclusion in his script of a gay character.

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The claim sparked an angry war of words between the writer, the school, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Opera North.

Mr Hall claimed it was the inclusion of a gay character that had prompted the school to pull out of the production, while Opera North and the council insisted it was offensive language - and one scene in particular where homophobic abuse is shouted at the gay character - that had spaked the problems.

Yesterday a spokesman for Opera North said: “We have worked closely with the writers at all times, and have supported their rights of artistic expression throughout. We have also worked equally hard to ensure that the schools and community groups involved in the project have positive feelings of ownership and identity within the production. Thankfully rehearsals have been taking place throughout the week.

“We have been able to keep this project on track thanks to intense negotiations behind the scenes with all parties.”

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The controversy began with Mr Hall writing in a national newspaper that “At the school’s request, I agreed to tone down the violence of the language ... but not the character’s straightforward defence of his sexuality. Word came back from Opera North that, unless I removed the lines “I’m queer” and “I prefer a lad to a lass”, the whole project was in jeopardy”.

The word “queer” has now been removed from the libretto.

The Opera North spokesman added: “We are delighted that we can now move forward to perform the piece next week. At its core, Beached is not simply about sexuality, it is much more about the life and community of Bridlington, and other similar towns and communities in the UK.

Beached will be performed on July 16 at Bridlington Spa at 2pm and 6pm. Tickets 01262 678258.

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