Stupid fucking poster

Stupid Fucking Bird, Aaron Posner’s contemporary twist on Chekhov’s The Seagull, has its Bay Area regional premiere this week at SF Playhouse. San Francisco is no one’s idea of an expletive-deleted kind of town, but that title? Not what some people want the kiddies to inquire about while you’re riding a Muni bus or a BART train. And so the theater’s promotional graphics for the show obscure the F-word with a splat of what looks like birdshit*.

SFPlayhouse_Stupid-Fucking-Bird

Go to the website, though—thank goodness kids never use the Internet!—and the “content advisory” on the website minces nothing. Indeed, it could have been written by any of us here at Strong Language.

content advisory SFB

“Recommended for mature fucking audiences.”

This isn’t SF Playhouse’s first fucking rodeo. In 2013 it presented Stephen Adly Guirgis’s The Motherfucker with the Hat, which it promoted with this be-grawlixed poster:

SLIDER_MOFO

Other theater companies handled the title differently, and so did reviewers. (See footnote to my Strong Language post “So Many Mother _Uckers.”)

And this is not the first time Stupid Fucking Bird has been presented. So I wondered: Is SF Playhouse following the taboo-avoiding lead of other cities that had presented Posner’s play?

Fuck, no.

Stupid Fucking Bird (SFB henceforth) had its premiere in May 2013 at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. The poster was unexpurgated:

SFB_Woolly Mammoth

This particular fowl looks less like a seagull and more like the Twitter bluebird.

The play had a run in August and September 2014 at Chicago’s Sideshow Theatre:

sideshow_SFB

F-word: intact! Also, the critic for Time Out Chicago had perhaps the best line about the play: “This is, dare I say, a staggering work of heartbreaking stupid fucking genius.”

But earlier that summer, a Los Angeles production had taken the birdshit route.

SFB_Boston Court

The L.A. SFB was a co-production of The Theatre at Boston Court (which is in Pasadena, not Boston, and not on a street called Boston Court, either—go figure) and Circle X Theatre Co. The website includes the unexpurgated title and some gleeful copy: “With music, meta-theatricality, and mad humor, playwright Aaron Posner beats The Seagull to a bloody fucking pulp.” But the (rave) review that ran in the Los Angeles Times replaced fucking with an ellipsis …

LAT_SFB

…and primly disclaimed that “the whole profane title” could not “be printed in a family newspaper.”

Conclusions: It’s hard out there for a theater critic at a family newspaper. (Do children still read newspapers?) And if you’re a theater company that feels compelled to self-censor fucking in front of bird, a splotch of birdshit is just the ticket.

As long as no one censors the fucking dialogue.

Watch a scene from the Boston Court production of Stupid Fucking Bird.

__

* Not germane to this post, but what the hell: I once worked for a group of civil engineers who referred to birdshit—an occupational nuisance because it interfered with electrical transmission, or something—by the Irish-sounding euphemism birdeen. I had never seen or heard this circumlocution before, nor have I encountered it since.

 

2 thoughts on “Stupid fucking poster

  1. John Cowan November 3, 2016 / 4:31 pm

    Soho Rep is not in Soho in London, nor is it in SoHo in NYC any more. The Third Street Music School, similarly, has been on 11th Street for decades.

    Like

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