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La Jolla Playhouse ‘Indecent’ Explores Legal Battle Over Artistic Expression

A new production at the La Jolla Playhouse looks back at a time when artists in the U.S. were not fully free to express themselves. KPBS Evening Edition host Peggy Pico talks to the show's writer and director.

La Jolla Play ‘Indecent’ Explores Legal Battle Over Artistic Expression

GUESTS:

Paula Vogel, writer, "Indecent"

Rebecca Taichman, director, "Indecent"

Transcript

A kiss shared between two women on stage may not cause much of a stir today, but that has not always been the case.

Indecent,” a new production at the La Jolla Playhouse, looks back at a time when artists in the U.S. were not fully free to express themselves.

It tells the story of "God of Vengeance,” written by the Jewish playwright Sholem Asch in 1906. A scandal erupted after its debut on Broadway in 1923. The plot, including the lesbian relationship, led to the arrest of the entire cast on obscenity charges.

Paula Vogel, who wrote “Indecent,” said she and director Rebecca Taichman read Asch’s play at different times in their lives. They became obsessed with what happened after its debut.

“Once you encounter it, you become somewhat obsessed with this play,” Vogel told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday.

She said the setting for “Indecent” begins in 1906 and ends in 1952. It shows scenes from “God of Vengeance” and explores the backstage stories and its actors.

“People will leave the theater thinking, ‘I want to read this play,’” Vogel said.

Taichman said “God of Vengeance” explores every possible explosive issue of its time.

“I feel very moved by sharing this story,” she said.

"Indecent" is billed as a play with music. It runs through Dec. 10 at the La Jolla Playhouse, 2910 La Jolla Village Drive.

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