Letter to the editor: On the cancellation of ‘Beast Thing’

Ralph Hammann

On the cancellation of the play Beast Thing

To the Editor:

Over the past couple of decades, I’ve witnessed unfortunate declines in the quality of theater at the College, but it has reached a new low.

When I started reading the Record’s reportage of the canceled production of Beast Thing (“Theatre department cancels Beast Thing,” Nov. 7, 2018), my initial reaction was fear that injudicious overreactions of over-protected students had resulted in the dangerous practice of censorship. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Having taught and reviewed theater for over 35 years, I passionately believe that, with the exception of physical harm, the theater should not be required to be a safe place. Indeed, some of our most valued plays stir up the pot and invite arguments, challenge accepted behaviors and shake us into realizing the horrors of humanity. Beast Thing may be such a work, and it is unfortunate that it has not been allowed its voice.

However, the rehearsal space should be safe, and actors (whether student or professional) should not be the experimental fodder for directors who are more driven by ego and cant than humanity and talent. The tales of the cast working under director Misha Chowdhury were truly disturbing – not the stuff of “snowflakes,” but of reasonable and brave students who saw through their tyrant’s shabby clothes.

I am relieved to learn that Chowdhury will not be returning to the College. Having seen his incoherent production of The Wolves, he is as much a liability to good theater as he is to the welfare of his charges.

Ralph Hammann

Town resident and attendee of Williams theater since 1965