The Sunday Giveaway: 2 Tickets to Burning at The New Group

There is a lot I could tell you about Burning, the new play by Thomas Bradshaw that is premiering at The New Group right now.

But I think this says it all . . . 

May be inappropriate for 14 and under. (Strong language, nudity, and sexual content.)

You’re interested now, aren’t you?  Come on, don’t deny it.

Well, win this week’s Sunday Giveaway and you could see what all the warning is about!

This week’s winner gets two tickets to see this “titilating, taboo-testing and psychosexually insightful” play, and here’s all that you have to do to win.

Give me your opinion on this . . .

Should theater have a rating system?  You know, like the movies?  G, PG, R, NC17, etc.  If you want to release a film you gotta get rated, and it doesn’t matter if your film is a big budget studio summer spectacular or an independent art film by an auteur.

Should plays and musicals have a similar system?

Riddle me that with a comment below and I’ll pick a random winner who will get to see the NC17-like Burning.


(Got a comment?  I love ’em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here, then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)



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  • I think the current practice of shows including warnings when material isn’t suited for kids works well. I happen to think that the film ratings system is pretty flawed and would hate for something like that to mess with theatrical presentations.

  • Stephanie says:

    It’s hard enough to make great theater happen, we don’t need more hurdles. If that weren’t the case, sure, it’d be great. The more info, the better for everyone.
    I saw Purity some years back. Bradshaw is great. As if I have standing to say so, I think his voice is unmatched and important. And, yeah, best not to bring your most conservative friends. Or…maybe do!

  • Susan says:

    I like the warning system, but not hard and fast rules. Then again I may be crediting the theater viewer with too much sense. After all Kate1boo proudly proclaimed in the NYT that she bought a ticket for Godspell at the Circle in the Square theater but was unaware that the play was based on a gospel and would be performed in the round. Maybe P.T. Barnum was right about the intelligence of the American people.

  • Allie says:

    Absolutely not. I could go on and on with this one, but just as the ratings system has greatly affected both the creative and business aspects of film, it would do the same for theatre. Recent controversies that come to mind are the R-rating of “The King’s Speech” and “Blue Valentine’s” initial NC-17 rating. I highly recommend the doc “This Film is Not Yet Rated” for more on issues with the MPAA.
    As long as the questionable content is made known, then theatre-goers can decide for themselves if the production is suitable for themselves or their children.

  • Allie says:

    Seriously? The show is called GODspell and the name of the theatre is CIRCLE in the square!

  • Reg says:

    No, we don’t need a rating system. The ratings would be too limiting and unfairly label material that is often not as harsh as some make it seem.

  • Jake says:

    I don’t think there need to be ratings. Having warnings such as this or viewer discretions is fine enough.

  • Anthony says:

    I’m not sure a rating system is needed as long as shows that may have adult themes make that known. I will give two examples of when it may have come in handy.
    I remember seeing Spring Awakening once near a couple with two young daughters. Needless to say, they didn’t last very long. They obviously didn’t know what was coming.
    I also know a teacher who was mortified when she took a class into the city to see Avenue Q without realizing some of the things her students were about to see.
    I’m not sure if these incidents were the fault of the show or of the ones purchasing the tickets. If shows are not making it known, then maybe the rating system, however flawed it might become, would be helpful.

  • John says:

    Definitely unnecessary – word of mouth is sufficient about musicals — parents with young children will find out from others whether a musical is appropriate or not and so I don’t think musicals need worry about a rating system.

  • Duncan says:

    Yeah, a rating system isn’t necessary for theatre, but a warning is always appreciated. I write plays that often include nudity or sexual situations, and I’m always sure to mention in advertising postcards and posters that some elements of the play may not be appropriate for all audiences.

  • Not a rating system per se, but I do appreciate the “advisory” of what the content contains. For example, I just saw ‘Silence: The Musical – The Unauthorized Parody of Silence of the Lambs’ at PS 122 and, if you are familiar with the show or its song titles/lyrics, the warning, “Contains strong language, partial nudity and material that may not be deemed appropriate for children under the age of 14” certainly set my expectations. When I saw a young teenage girl with her family there I wondered if they had seen this notice. So, no ratings per se, but a brief “heads-up” is nice.

  • Matt says:

    I don’t think there should be rating systems for anything. Who are these people who decide what kind of rating a movie gets anyhow? Who decides that a man having his head bashed in by a baseball bat earns a PG rating and a bare women’s breast earns an R rating? Parent’s should be more involved in what their kids are watching and find out for themselves and not trust a rating system that may not adhere to their own standards of what is and isn’t appropriate viewing for their children. If we people feel we should rate the morality of a film or piece of theater shouldn’t we also rate it’s artistic value and entertainment value? I

  • Bryan Austermann says:

    I do not think that a rating system should be put in place as a way of limiting who can go to shows. If there was a rating system as a unified warning of content in shows, I think that would work well, but to say a show like Next to Normal or Spring Awakening could not be viewed by anyone under age 13 could have hurt those shows. I don’t person think that there should be a lot of 13 year olds watching the simulated sex included in SA, but there were plenty that did see it and could handle it, and that decision was made by their parents, so it needs to be respected.
    So, basically, I think a rating for shows similar to movies could be very helpful in helping people decide if the show is appropriate for them, but should not be enforced the way it is for movies because that would only limit the number of young people who could see live theater. And we certainly don’t want that.

  • Dave A says:

    I don’t think that shows should have a rating system. For the most part, ticket buyers have some sort of idea what the show they’re buying tickets for is about. Producers generally do a pretty good job relaying the subject matter of a show with their promotional materials…as they should…this is what is going to sell their show! I haven’t heard an outcry in the theater community to put ratings in place, so why fix it if it ain’t broke?

  • Lester says:

    Warning are great — but for what age. Under 16 not admitted? Under 10? No. Simply state what the customer should know and then let each make a decision whether to bring the kids or not. “Nudity. Sex. Swearing.” Doesn’t sound like just a warning. I’d use it as a tag line.

  • Alexa says:

    I think the warnings work without the hardcore rating system, but sometimes I wish parents would pay a little more attention. I saw Avenue Q and was seated next to a 12 year old (not with me, with the group sitting next to me, which also included a 16 year old) and it pretty much ruined the first act for us. We moved to empty seats a few rows back after the intermission because the show was clearly not appropriate for him… it might be for some 12 year olds (?), but he giggled and squirmed and made jokes to his mom while we were trying to watch. And his being uncomfortable made us uncomfortable for him. I know this is a pipe dream, but I think shows with racy topics should require a parent on the end of each group of children. I don’t care what your kids watch, but I don’t want to sit next to anyone under 17 during puppet (or human) nudity unless I know them and that they can handle/appreciate the content for what it is supposed to be.

  • ECP says:

    Age-restricted movie ratings are a sad joke. And I question the mental health of a ratings board that has more issues with a vagina or penis than with severed limbs. Viewer-discretion advisories on TV/CATV are better (concise, clearer) and could work for theater-goers who have content concerns.

  • gj says:

    Should theater have a rating system? Yes. And like the movies they should leave it up to the parents to decide if their kids should be allowed to attend. When I saw “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” some parents took their kids out during the first song, later on the rest of the parents got their kids the hell out (but I doubt they got their money back).
    Why torture the people in the boxoffice, put a big “R” above the window and at least you have an excuse if they come back screaming for their money.

  • Definitely have some sort of notice in all publicity materials if there’s nudity, violence, etc. If I were running a theater, I’d rather not have to deal with angry patrons who want their money back. Make it easy for them to go elsewhere and not hassle me.

  • Dawn Slinsky says:

    This is a difficult call. In most cases, I think it depends upon the child; for instance, I took my then twelve year old daughter and sixteen year old son to see Hair a few years back. Yes, there was brief nudity and lots of sex and drug references, but I thought the overall message was so important and so socially powerful that with some advance discussion on my part they would handle it just fine. And they did. Parents need to consider many factors when deciding which shows their children see. While the child should be mature enough to handle the material, the parent also must consider the feelings of the other theater-goers – some things just are not meant for children no matter how mature they may be. So, no, I don’t think there should be ratings per se, but definitely a healthy dose of parental oversight.

  • Amanda says:

    I think that the way things work now is a perfectly good system. Right now, we are able to leave it up to the discretion of the parents and caregivers to decide if the child is at the appropriate age. Shows like Spring Awakening and Hair employed the use of warning statements, and Hair even went so far as to say that there was nudity but it was not well-lit and was not meant to be overtly sexual in nature. Theater is such a unique art that stamping it with a strict age limit would deter even more people from coming to see shows. I think keep it the way it is.

  • Margie says:

    About 3 or 4 years ago, a mom from out of town with three kids: (8 yrs, 12 and 15), asked me what Broadway play I would recommend. I was thinking of the 8-year-old and said, “Avenue Q.” Yes, there was a character constantly calling out from his second floor window, “Porn,” but I remembered nothing else that might be offensive and figured the 8-year-old wouldn’t know what porn was, anyway. After, the mother was furious with me — the 8-year-old had to hide his eyes in parts (I’d forgotten those scenes); so I think the idea of putting something like: “May be inappropriate for 14 and under.” works in an ad, but PLEASE DON’T GIVE US YET ANOTHER RTING SYSTEM!

  • says:

    No rating because if you rate live theatre you will have to start rating life!

  • As a mother of two teenagers, ages 17 and 15, I would like there to be a rating system. It would represent “full disclosure” so that we could protect our kids from being exposed to things they don’t want to see and are not ready for. Kids these days are already exposed to a great deal of things we didn’t have 50 years ago. I would like a rating to inform me what’s in the show, so as to be able to make the judgment call as to what my kids can see. I always try to tell them what’s in a film before we watch it but sometimes we’ll be watching and a sexual scene comes on and my son will run out of the room or my daughter will yawn and say “No big deal”. Hard to gauge in advance, but I check in with them because they have different sensitivities and I don’t want to take for granted that they could handle seeing something graphic or perhaps bizarre/perverted. I want them to be educated but to be able to “pace” it.

  • MJD says:

    I think a rating system would def help, but it isn’t as necessary as film since most people might go to a show once a year and would have more time to research as opposed to a film in which they may go more often and with less of an investment $$.
    – MJD

  • Part of me thinks more tickets would be sold for certain productions if they were rated NC-17 etc, but over all I think it would discourage already wary tourist from seeing shows they may simply have a few F words.

  • Yosi Merves says:

    I think “recommended ages” for a production is fine for a rating system, as long as that recommended age is not decided by the producers. For example, I enjoyed Lysistrata Jones, but I take issue with their website saying the show is appropriate for ages 8 and up. I think 13 and up would make more sense.

  • Kate says:

    No, when I was a kid and actually saw a racy production it made me want to be a part of the theater because this is where I had access to the good stuff! It made me think and ask questions. Let’s keep the doors open and make parents do a little research on their own. No more red tape please, just red curtains!

  • Lane says:

    Rather than mandatory ratings, I’d suggest shows voluntarily adopt a consistent manner in which to identify content. Stealing, err, borrowing from television, I’d recommend something like “content labels” to let parents know when a show might include violence, sexual situations, coarse or crude language and suggestive dialogue.

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