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Utah Theatre Director Zaps Homophobic Patron Upset Over Gay Kiss in Play: VIDEO


Chris Lino — the managing director of The Pioneer Theater Company on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah — recently staged a production of the comedic thriller Deathtrap during which (SPOILER ALERT) one character kisses another of the same gender on the cheek for all of three to four seconds.

The kiss was enough to send one audience member into full-blown histrionics, and she sent Lino the following letter:

Chris [Lino, Managing Director],

I trusted you! I have been a season ticket holder for 10 years and in the past have appreciated the quality of the acting and set design. I love the theatre and have taken my children to the theatre in hopes that they too will love it and continue to support the ARTS.

Pioneer_theatre_companyI am normally calm, mild-mannered, and don’t get upset, but last night, at the close of the first act of Deathtrap, I was infuriated with the explicit, homosexual display on stage because I had brought my teenage son to see the seemingly innocuous play. I based my decision to take my teenage son upon the content advisory you provided. In the past, I have appreciated the content advisories, and I have relied upon them to make attendance decisions. I realize that, unfortunately, you feel you must appeal to an insignificant minority of patrons by offering “edgy” material. I regret that you feel that way. I have wasted many tickets the last two years by choosing NOT to attend plays that were offensive and vulgar.

Because I relied on the content advisory, I am infuriated this evening. I felt compelled to walk out immediately, but had been taught etiquette as a child (my seat is [REDACTED]). It took all of my self control as I fumed in my seat for the long minute before intermission. Why was brazen homosexual content not included in the advisory?

As I left at intermission, I talked to your employees in the ticket booth asking for upper management, but you were not available. When I inquired as to why that content was left out of the advisory I was told that it would “ruin the plot.” Ruin the plot?! You ruined my evening, ruined my trust in you, and you ruined the trust my son has in me to find worthwhile entertainment for him. I feel sick about tonight.

I am appalled that you could not have simply stated: homosexual content. I have NEVER been so disgusted and infuriated! I was livid. I know your ticket sales clerk and manager are not responsible, and they handled the situation well. I had read and reread the content advisory to make sure it would be suitable to have my teenage son attend. I anticipated that he would appreciate the suspense, intrigue, plot twists, and mystery. The decision on the theatre’s part not to divulge repulsive content was irresponsible and negligent! You have that responsibility to your patrons.

Please refund my money for this last evening’s performance as well as Sweet Charity as we will not be using our tickets. Thank you in advance. My real desire is that you could erase the images in my son’s mind and in mine. Please send my refund to: [REDACTED]

I hope my feedback will prompt you to include ALL potentially offensive content in the advisory in the future!

Read Lino’s excellent response and a report for SLC FOX13, AFTER THE JUMP…

In response Lino issued the following response and shared it on Facebook:


I received your e-mail, and am sorry that you were offended by the kissing scene.

We did not include the scene in the content advisory for two reasons:

1. It is indeed a major plot revelation in a murder mystery that relies entirely on plot twists for suspense, revealing the motive for the murder that has just occurred; to include it would have revealed a plot point that would have spoiled the show for patrons.

Deathtrap2. I did not think it rose to the level of requiring an advisory. You describe the content as “edgy,” and there are indeed times we do produce edgier material (this year’s Other Desert Cities or last season’s Clybourne Park come to mind, for which I believe we go to great pains to provide content advisories), but in this day and age I hardly think Deathtrap, a forty year old play, or a brief kiss by two men (there is no other sexual activity of any kind in the play) qualifies as edgy.

I have to ask, and I do so in all sincerity: In putting on Deathtrap, we are “play acting,” and in this particular play we show two characters carrying out a cold-blooded murder, and then we show them kissing as the motivation for the murder. You object to the kissing, but not to the fact that they’re murderers? You are comfortable with your son witnessing an enacted murder, but not a same sex kiss? In both cases, it’s just make-believe, but how is a play that depicts murder, whether it’s a contemporary murder-mystery like Deathtrap or an immortal tragedy like Macbeth, morally acceptable while the depiction of a fairly innocuous, albeit same-sex kiss, is totally unacceptable? The script doesn’t ask you to condone either the murder or the kiss; despite what you imply, we’re not promoting a homosexual agenda in producing Deathtrap; if anything, since the two characters who kiss are the villains of the piece, the kiss becomes part of their villainy, and both characters get their comeuppance in the second act.

Based on your letter, I anticipate that I might receive several more on this subject. (I half expect to get other letters of complaint from other patrons who accuse the play of “gay bashing” by revealing the character’s murderous impulses to be a function of their homosexuality—I’ve learned in twenty-three years that there’s nothing we can do that won’t offend somebody). Even if that happens—even if I get twenty letters-- the vast majority of our patrons will enjoy the show and regard the kissing “reveal” as a shocking but satisfying plot twist. In that circumstance—if the majority of our patrons don’t feel “betrayed” by our not mentioning the kiss—I would not tell you you’re wrong to be offended, but I would ask you to consider who we’re writing the advisories for: the 80-90% of our patrons who aren’t offended by the element in question, or the 10-20% who are?

In any event, I don’t expect to persuade you to my point of view, even if I don’t understand yours. Clearly, for you, the depiction of a same sex kiss is offensive—you use the word “repulsive”-- and you are right that we did not warn you that that would be in the play.

On that basis, I will be glad to refund you the price of your tickets to Deathtrap and will instruct my Patron Services Manager to process a refund.

I will not refund your tickets for Sweet Charity. You are free to use them yourself, give them away, or return them to the theatre for a tax deductible donation.

It sounds as if you have been unhappy with many of our productions, since you write that you’ve wasted many tickets over the past few seasons by not attending plays that you describe as offensive and vulgar, and it sounds as though you wish to discontinue your association with the theatre.

On your instructions, I will advise our marketing and box office staffs to place a “Do Not Contact” note on your records, and will release your season tickets for sale for next season. I always hate to lose a patron, but it is, I’ve found, better to lose a patron than risk betraying her trust and offending her repeatedly, something we have apparently done in your case.

Chris Lino

Prior to receiving the patron's letter, the theater company had received only two or three similar complaints. At the time of his post's writing, Lino's Facebook post with the letter and his response has 1,068 likes, 265 shares and 346 comments (most of them in support of Lino's reply).

(via The Bilerico Project)

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  1. All I can say is that the letter writer has some major, major problems. Hope her teenage son is not gay, with a parent like this.

    Posted by: john patrick | Apr 7, 2014 2:33:15 PM

  2. This woman needs to know that her teenaged son has seen a lot more than that at the grocery store and at school, unless he lives in a complete bubble. Idiot women.

    Posted by: Jaysonn | Apr 7, 2014 2:35:09 PM

  3. excuse me * should say woman not women.

    Posted by: Jaysonn | Apr 7, 2014 2:35:44 PM

  4. Nothing says "wackjob" louder than a tirade like this. Someone needs to be put out of their misery.

    Posted by: Paul B. | Apr 7, 2014 2:40:01 PM

  5. It's not exactly a secret that Deathtrap contains a kiss between two guys. The 1982 movie with Christopher Reeve and Michael Caine certainly had one. Well, as the old saying goes, "Entering Utah, Set Clock Back 30 years."

    Posted by: Jason Macbride | Apr 7, 2014 2:43:44 PM

  6. She is a lover of theatre and she didn't know deathtrap plot?
    Sorry but i don't buy that

    Posted by: jjose712 | Apr 7, 2014 2:45:03 PM

  7. I think her son has seen way much worse on network television or the internet. She cluthces her pearls over the kiss, but says nothing of the murder and violence. Ugh.

    Posted by: BETTY | Apr 7, 2014 2:45:09 PM

  8. Someone who is so filled with anti-gay hate, who doesn't appreciate the "plot twist" that this kiss provides is beyond help. She should stay away from ALL theaters, movies, TV, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, or else she is going to be very unhappy for the rest of her life.

    Posted by: Howard B | Apr 7, 2014 2:47:43 PM

  9. She's just some crazy Mormon; forget about her.

    Posted by: mike | Apr 7, 2014 2:48:02 PM

  10. Jaysonn: for a minute we thought you were channeling Rick and his anti-women stance! Lol

    Posted by: BETTY | Apr 7, 2014 2:48:03 PM

  11. All this fuss over a kiss on the cheek? Does this woman know what is being put on TV today? Wait till she sees two men engaging in mouth to mouth kissing on TV - and finds that they actually have chemistry together! Oops! That will mark the beginning of the end of her homophobia. Could it be that this is what's really upsetting her? Some guys kiss girls, some guys kiss guys. Even the people in Utah will have to accept this eventually.

    Posted by: Mary | Apr 7, 2014 2:51:24 PM

  12. she "read and reread" the content advisory? did it contain a lot of big, confusing words??

    Posted by: Joe | Apr 7, 2014 2:53:48 PM

  13. What a MOMO Nazi... I was in Salt Lake, at the intersection of State and University, Washington Square. There was a black man wanking off at the corner, by the buss stop, during rush hour. NO ONE PAID ANY ATTENTION! So that stupid cow is all upset about a single kiss! She should drive to almost any area between the air port and the lake if she really wants to get upset! Or just to the rest rooms at ZCMI for that matter.

    Posted by: Art | Apr 7, 2014 2:59:30 PM

  14. Sure she doesn't get upset easily. A kiss on the cheek? Give me a break and go take a zanax lady!

    Posted by: greenfuzz | Apr 7, 2014 3:06:35 PM

  15. Bible warning: Jesus kisses another dude.

    Posted by: stranded | Apr 7, 2014 3:09:03 PM

  16. Talk about overreacting! This lady needs to get in a time machine and go back to the 1850s. Wow! It's theater, lady, lighten up.

    Posted by: Guillermo Luna | Apr 7, 2014 3:21:02 PM

  17. So the subscriber is pissed about a kiss between two characters of the same gender, but doesn't seem too fazed by the act of matricide which precedes that kiss. Nice to know people have their priorities in order.

    Posted by: Hank | Apr 7, 2014 3:29:00 PM

  18. Enough about the obviously religion-crazed patron. How about some cheering for the terrific response by Lino!!

    Posted by: Buster | Apr 7, 2014 3:35:26 PM

  19. She wants a refund for her Sweet Charity tickets too. I guess she must have just heard 'Hey Big Spender'...

    Posted by: Leroy Laflamme | Apr 7, 2014 3:39:34 PM

  20. She obviously decided to leave her daughter "Carrie" at home, who had plans to attend the prom anyway.

    Posted by: DC Insider | Apr 7, 2014 3:42:34 PM

  21. It was a very good response.

    Posted by: Joe in Ct | Apr 7, 2014 3:43:50 PM

  22. Stop the apologies. Lino might have attempted tactfulness here but I resent the comparison of homosexuality to murder as though one is the lesser of the two. Who cares if it's theater? There's nothing wrong with gay people. That's the bigger issue.

    Posted by: Al Eugene | Apr 7, 2014 3:48:04 PM

  23. Clearly this woman is scared shitless that her son is gay.

    Posted by: BR | Apr 7, 2014 4:10:33 PM

  24. You want vulgar? Go plunge yourself you common person.

    Posted by: enchantra | Apr 7, 2014 4:11:08 PM

  25. good one DC INSIDER made me laugh!!!!

    Posted by: disgusted american | Apr 7, 2014 4:19:47 PM

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