What are you doing for Banned Books Week this year? It’s not like you don’t have choices.
First celebrated in 1982 and promoted now primarily by the American Library Association, Banned Books Week (September 24-30) highlights the year’s ten most challenged works—that is, the ones that have attracted the most complaints from people hoping to get them knocked off public library shelves (the latest figures are from 2016). Famous list alumni include the Harry Potter series and the Holy Bible. Of this year’s winners, the top five were all attacked for their LGBTQ or transgender characters; number eight, Chuck Palahniuk’s Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread, was cited as “disgusting and all-around offensive.”
City Lit Theater’s free BBW observance Books on the Chopping Block will be back for its 12th iteration. Scheduled to visit 17 area libraries between September 23 and October 1, it comprises five-minute readings from each of the infamous top ten.
But that’s not all. Two new, one-night-only events will expand BBW’s scope beyond books. The Dramatists Legal Defense Fund, a sister organization of the Dramatists Guild, is staging Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret at theaters in 16 American cities to educate the public about such challenged theater works as Almost, Maine (proscribed in 2014 for what a high school principal called “sexually explicit overtones”). It’s hosted here by Stage 773 (Mon 9/25, 7:30 PM, free) and features Roosevelt University students belting “Totally Fucked” from Spring Awakening, among other numbers.
And Saturday, September 23, at 7 PM, the Greenhouse Theater Center’s new playwrights unit, MC-10, offers Use It or Lose It: An Evening of Short Plays About Your Rights, a pay-what-you-can benefit for the American Civil Liberties Union that features staged readings of nine special-made pieces by the likes of Rebecca Gilman, Brett Neveu, and Thomas Bradshaw, inspired for the most part by ACLU case files.