Published January 14, 2015
Just hours before the play was to be shown on Monday afternoon, Brigham Young University canceled the University of Utah’s production of the Greek tragedy, “The Bakkhai” because of content not suited for the BYU audience.
BYU’s official statement on the subject, in a news release, said:
“While we respect the work of our colleagues at the University of Utah and plan to continue to have the Annual Greek Festival perform at BYU, ‘The Bakkhai’ itself presents difficult material and the approach of this production could be problematic for members of our audience.”
BYU decided not to show the play on campus Monday afternoon for several reasons, but mainly because of the content of the play itself and of this particular production.
“Earlier in the day Jim [Svendsen, artistic director of the play,] and I had several discussions about this particular production and as the chair of the theater department I have made the decision that we will not have that performance here due to just a couple of things that have to do with our audience,” Roger Sorensen, chair of BYU’s theater department, said.
“‘The Bakkhai’ itself is difficult material and the particular approach and concept for this production will be problematic for some of our audience members which we felt we would like to not have.”
Roger Macfarlane, a professor of humanities at BYU, said he had been informed that 350 tickets had been pre-sold and that they were expecting many students to purchase tickets at the door. All ticket holders will receive full refunds, including any service charges.
Early Monday morning, while the cast and crew were setting up, both schools came to a consensus that the play should not be performed.
Director Larry West said questions addressed in the play could be applicable to Latter Day Saints students and regrets the opportunity to not be able to perform the play at BYU.
“‘The Bakkhai’ on its surface is about sex, wine and losing one’s inhibition and at its core is about defining God,” West said. “I would have loved to discuss this in the BYU setting.”