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Fleming Says 'u' Play Is An Unworthy Issue

Fleming Says 'u' Play Is An Unworthy Issue image
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i f - - - - - - j ' W The attention received in recent days by the play "Dionysus in 69, ' which is being presented at the Michigan Union, drew a response last evening by U-M President Robben W. Fleming. He said "it is an unhappy fact that issues unworthy of the attention they receive often seem to occupy a disproportionate share of our time these days." "Dionysus in '69".began drawing attention from local government officials several days ago when a citizen told Ann Arbor pólice the play might be illegal under Michigan's obscenity laws. The cast is coming to Ann Arbor frm Minneapolis and Detroit. In Minneapolis, the play was performed for sell-out audiences in a private theatre for two nights after University of Minnesota student unión officials paid the cast $900 to break a contract and leave the campus. No , similar action is planned, at least at this time, by U-M or Michigan Union officials. Fleming commented: "The University of Michigan s not a sanctuary, therefore the law applies on campus as well as in the community . . . "Whatever our individual views I may be of the type of theatre represented by 'Dionysus,' we must recognize that it is regarded by both academie and professional theatre people as worthy of serious consideration. This fact is reflected both in the reviews of such critics as Clive Barnes of the New York Times (who will lecture at the U-M Sunday afternoon on 'Obscenity in the Theatre'),' and by the comments of nur own faculty members with whom I have discussed the issue . . . If, as some of the critics have said, this type of theatre is unutterably boring, it will soon be consigned to oblivion. "The human body is hardly obscene, thus nudity - in and of itself - is difficult to describe as obscene. The question is one of the context within ■jnmlilv occin-s I 1 Wliiv.1. ___ __________ ,"It is unfair of us to criticize the local county prosecutor and the pólice because of a law enforcement problem they did not seek. At our invitation these officials sat down with our people, including those from the sponsoring group, and discussed in constructive fashion the problems posed by the performance of 'Dionysus.' They showed both sympathy and understanding for freedom of expression in the theatre. Naturally, they reserved the right to make their own decisions as to whether the performance violated the law. I may or may not agree with their ultímate judgment, but I do not propose to criticize them for fulfilling their obligations under the law. "A U-M audience is not a ju. venile audience. The average j age of our undergraduates is I just over 20, and the average I age of our gradúate students, I who make up over 40 per cent I of our student body, is just over I 26. They can hardly be called I immature. " 'Dionysus' is being sponsored by the University Activiües Center. This is a responsible student organization. The current controversy has been discussed by the officers with the governing board of both the Michigan Union and the Michigan League. Both boards have approved the engagement, jnese boards have faculty, student and alumni members." The play win take place at :0 p.m. today and tomorrow m the Michigan Union ballroom. A number of elected I litical officials, in addition to pohce, have announced plans to observe tonight's I HI1CG.