THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Friday, May 14, 1971
P..ge.Two.THEruMICHIGANrDAILY Friday,.wMayr 14,w1971
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of young actors began the per-
formance of the play "Dionysus
in '69" before a packed audience
in the Union.
After depicting a loosely adapt-
ed stage version of Euripides'
"Bacchae," the players were de-
tained by police, fingerprinted
and photographed. They were
arrested the next day because
they had performed much of the
Yesterday, the ten persons who
had participated in the nude
scenes were finally acquitted of
the charges of indecent exposure
initiated by Ann Arbor Police
Chief Walter Krasny.
The play, had been prcscnted
complete with the nude scenes
decided to repeat their perform-
ance here, despite threats of
criminal prosecution fron Kras-
The arrests caused considei -
able community controversy o'er
the standards by which local cf-
ficials judged indecency and
soon evolved into a lengthy court
battle, distinguished by varying
interpretations of ongoing Su-
preme Court decisions concern-
ing indecency guidelines.
First, all ten actors charged
demanded a District Court ex-
amination on the indecent ex-
posure charge, a misdemeanor.
District Court Judge Pieter
Thomassen, hearing the case
throughout its 27 months of mo-
tions and counter-motions, fin-
ally determined there was no
violation of law according to the
Supreme Court's interpretation.
For the prosecution's case to
have held, there would have had
to have been proof supplied that
the play had "no redeeming so-
The Michigan Daily, edited and man-
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was oriented towards sex,
Much of the debate over the
play's content and performance
came at a time when contem-
porary theatre was exploring
new and unused devices in pre-
senting traditional t h e m e s.
"Dionysus" was in the fore-
front of this movement locally,
after which social opposition to
experimentation in the theatre
diminished, despite the charges
against the actors.
Successively, bolder expres-
sions of artistic freedom in the
form of nudity in theatrical pro-
ductions evolved along with lib-
eralized public attitude toward
such productions and Supreme
Initially, when the ten were
first arrested, there was some in-
dication that performance of
"Dionysus" with the nude scenes
was used as a means of testing
statutes against indecency. Be-
fore the local performance, the
play had been performed without
the nude scenes in Detroit.
At the time, the play's p:-
ducer, Richard Schechner, said
the group chose Ann Ar'bor for a
"frontal exposure" if censor-
ship because the atmosphere
for such a production at the tni-
versity appeared better to them
than that of Detroit.
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