The play was David Ollington's Resistance, about a man undergoing POW resistance training. "He's stripped down mentally, emotionally and physically," Ollington says. Director Phil Kinen speculates that the city's henchmen were goosed by a Pitch ad with an "adult content" disclaimer and talk of the play on a KKFI 90.1 radio program. "One of the terms that tipped it off was 'homoerotic,'" Kinen says.
"I did depict a man being restrained, being shoved against the wall, being hit, but that was all done in mime," Ollington explains. "I was restrained by air, I was hit by air. The other actor was behind a screen. All you saw of him was a silhouette. He would swing his arm, and I would turn my head and go 'ow' if I'd been hit. For many there is an erotic charge, but there's no sex."
The officer thought otherwise, however, and issued the Westport Coffee House a citation. And while naked people may be allowed on stages at the Missouri Rep and Unicorn theaters because of the intricacies of cabaret licenses, ultimately that decision is made by one man: head regulator Eldon Audsley. "Sometimes the event, after it's observed, is determined not to require a license _ depending on what's going on," Audsley says.
The ACLU's Dick Kurtenbach disagrees, and he shot off a letter to Audsley on Monday. "It seems quite a reach to classify this space in the Westport Coffee House as an 'adult entertainment facility,'" Kurtenbach wrote. "I fear that this particular theater was selected because it is more vulnerable than other more established theaters in the community and because of the play's provocative content."
Ollington, who also stripped down to the full Audsley in a balletlike performance at a Culture Under Fire event in May, says, "I did not argue, I did not question" the city's decision to stop the play. "If they would have informed me, I would have been happy to wear briefs, tights, bicycle shorts, whatever they wanted."
But wasn't it all about Resistance?