One of Hollywood’s much-heralded gun control initiatives, designed to counteract gun violence seen in popular films, has made its way from Tinseltown to the bright lights on Broadway.
Producers of the upcoming “Oklahoma!” revival announced on Tuesday that the production would be joining the Gun Neutral Initiative, a program that donates money to weapon prevention nonprofits every time a firearm is pictured in a scene. It’s the first time a stage production has joined the movement, which was spearheaded by the production company Level Forward last year.
“Oklahoma!” producer Eva Price formally announced the move during a Sundance Film Festival panel titled “See Change: The Call for Gun Neutral Entertainment.” Price later tweeted that she was “proud” and “honored” to work on the first theater production to join the initiative.
“Just because a particular story calls for the presence of a particular weapon, that doesn’t mean that we have to remain complacent in America’s gun-violence epidemic,” she said in a statement. “Helping to destroy firearms that shouldn’t be in circulation is both a privilege and a responsibility.”
As part of the deal, financiers and producers will agree to add a “gun neutral” budget line item for every prop gun used in a production. The money, an average of about $15 per gun, will go toward community-based arts programs as well as nonprofits that destroy firearms, according to a news release. The goal is to stop the glamorization of weapons in entertainment industries, while also reducing the number of guns on the street.
“Hollywood now has a way to take responsibility and make up for the casual romance we have been having with guns, a romance that has promoted them as beautiful, powerful, sexy and alluring in the mainstream consciousness,” Abigail Disney, a founder of Level Forward, said in an Oct. 2018 statement announcing Gun Neutral. The indie movies “American Woman,” “Armor of Light” and “Human Terrain” were the first films to sign on to the initiative. According to the Oct. statement, more than 1,660 firearms were destroyed thanks to donations from the films.
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“While artists must be free to honestly portray the world in which we live, that privilege comes with a great responsibility to do our part in advancing gun safety,” said Level Forward co-founder Adrienne Becker.
The new production of “Oklahoma!”, which played to sold-out audiences at St. Ann’s Warehouse last fall, is slated to run on Broadway April 7 -Sept. 1 at the Circle in the Square Theatre. The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, which spins around a young woman pursued by an obsessive farm hand and cocksure cowboy, first debuted in 1943 and ran for a then-unprecedented 2,212 performances. Since its blockbuster debut, it has been adapted to film and staged countless times at theaters across the country.
— Rodgers & Hammerstein’s OKLAHOMA! (@OklahomaBway) January 5, 2019
Top Image: Courtesy of "Oklahoma" at St. Ann's Warehouse; Teddy Wolff