Saturday, May 12, 2007

 

On Stage Smoking Banned in Chicago

...I [Chris Jones] still think the failure of the buildings committee of the Chicago City Council to pass Ald. Burton F. Natarus' amendment exempting artistic performances from Chicago's wholly laudable ban on indoor, public smoking to be a dangerous and serious mistake.
Why? Actions that are part of works of art must be dealt with differently from everyday human conduct. Otherwise, the free-speech provisions in the Bill of Rights could not function.
In an act of cultural vandalism on Friday, Ald. Ed Smith (28th) reportedly suggested that producers cut lines about smoking (which would be illegal under copyright laws), or delete that bit of stage business (ditto).
That, sir, would be like you going through the Art Institute of Chicago with a can of spray paint, covering up the nudes. This is Chicago, for goodness sake. We're staking our future on becoming a cultural destination. This makes it look like we don't understand art at all.
We need to see plays with smoking as they were intended to be seen by their creators. With smoking. Freedom of expression requires it. It’s as simple as that. We could copy the New York policy- allow shows to get waivers when cigarette smoking is a vital part of the play or, better yet, follow the very sensible English policy and allow cigarette smoking when, and only when, essential to the artistic integrity of the production
(from Chicago Tribune).

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