The Daily Tar Heel

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Thursday January 20th

HB 2 has ‘Wicked’ repercussions across NC

Last week, Schwartz joined major production companies and film studios, like A&E Network and Turner Broadcasting, in the fight against House Bill 2 when he denied the right to any organization based in North Carolina to produce any of his shows.

First-year William Leitch said he believes the consequences of this ban will be larger than a lot of people think.

“If you don’t think you know Stephen Schwartz, you’ve more than likely heard him,” Leitch said.

Schwartz’s works include popular high school theater production choices like “Godspell” and “Pippin.” His most famous work, “Wicked,” is frequently performed at Charlotte’s Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.

One venue already feeling the effect of Schwartz’s ban is the theater department at East Chapel Hill High School.

“We were looking at ‘Godspell’ for next season, and now we can’t,” said Hope Hynes Love, East Chapel Hill’s artistic director.

Blumenthal President Tom Gabbard said he isn’t aware of any immediate effects that Schwartz’s ban will have on the performing arts center but believes it will have negative ramifications on the state’s theater scene — especially if others follow Schwartz’s lead.

“The end result is that people in North Carolina could expect to see a real change in what’s available for arts and entertainment,” Gabbard said.

Adam Versényi, the chairperson of the UNC Dramatic Art Department, said he thinks more artists will boycott North Carolina due to the bill, which worries him for the department’s future.

“My fear is that HB2 will make it more difficult for us to recruit the most qualified faculty and graduate students to join our program,” he said.

Despite the losses both theater departments could face, Gabbard and Versényi both said they support Schwartz’s opposition to the bill, as well as his decision to pull his shows from the state.

But not all members of the North Carolina arts community agree with Schwartz’s actions. Leitch, a performer in UNC’s Pauper Players, said he shares Schwartz’s thoughts on House Bill 2 but thinks the composer’s actions unfairly hurt the state’s theater.

“The theater community has always gone against the grain to send a message about accepting people with open arms — particularly towards the gay community,” Leitch said.

Versényi said UNC’s Center for Dramatic Art will continue to send that message, regardless of bills North Carolina legislators pass.

“As soon as the bill was passed, I sent out a message to everyone involved with the Center for Dramatic Art as well as all dramatic arts majors, strongly stating my own opposition to the bill and reaffirming the center’s strong opposition to any discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity.”



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