Gay row opera back on - COMMENT ON THIS STORY

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AN OPERA plagued by controversy and eventually cancelled amid claims of homophobia is now going ahead.

Following a period of intense negotiations, East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Bay Primary School announced this morning that revisions have been made to the script of community opera Beached.

Beached, written by Billy Elliot screenwriter Lee Hall, will now be performed at The Spa Bridlington.

A joint statement from Mike Furbank, head of improvement and learning at East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Emma Hobbs, head teacher at Bay Primary School, Bridlington said: “We are delighted to announce that the revisions which the school requested have now been made and the author has addressed the points raised by the school.

“This has enabled the community opera, Beached to continue. The final libretto is now an age appropriate text which was all the school had requested.

“The play retained the inclusion of a gay character, Professor Sewerby, who remains central to the play’s dramatic message.

“Neither the council, school or Opera North have ever expressed any concern over the inclusion of a gay character, only some of the language and tone around the character’s identity. The writer has now addressed this.

“Homophobia does not exist in any of our organisations and we take great exception to how this has been played out over the last week and we refute all such claims.

“We do not object to a proper and balanced debate being raised around the issue of sexuality but do object to the single-minded attack inflicted on Bay Primary School.

“At its core, Beached is not simply about sexuality, but much more about the life and community of Bridlington, or indeed many other similar towns and communities in the UK.

“It is fiction, but it speaks very directly about many personal experiences. To suggest otherwise is to misrepresent the piece.

“We are delighted that we can now move forward to perform the opera next week. The children at Bay Primary School have worked very hard and have been very enthusiastic about the project from the start.

“The opera will be a great opportunity to celebrate Opera North’s two-year residency in Bridlington, and in particular its work with Bay Primary School, which has proved to be such a productive and positive relationship.”