NEW YORK (AP) - The Catholic Archdiocese of New York wants a play depicting an alcoholic cardinal off its property, but the leader of a theater company said Thursday that he will risk eviction and present the show again this weekend.
``It's still a go, and I invite Mr. Cardinal John O'Connor to come down himself and let me know how this play is detrimental to his church,' said Jeffrey Cohen, leader of the RAPP Arts Center, after meeting with his attorney.The controversy centers on ``The Cardinal Detoxes,' a play about a cardinal sent to a church-run detoxification unit after he kills a pregnant woman in a drunken-driving accident.
The off-off-Broadway production is housed at the RAPP Theater Co., which rents space from the Archdiocese of New York in a former parochial school on Manhattan's Lower East Side.
When RAPP signed a lease in 1986, it agreed to abide by the ``religious, moral and ethical principles and directives of the archdiocese.'
``The Cardinal Detoxes,' which features a scornful 35-minute monologue by the title character dealing with the church's position on abortion, women's rights and homosexuality, violates that clause, said Joe Zwilling, spokesman for the archdiocese.
Zwilling said the archdiocese became aware of the show through an ad in The Village Voice that promised theatergoers ``a powerful indictment of the Catholic Church.'
The church's decision is not censorship, but a problem with the lease, he said.
``This is detrimental to the Catholic Church. Even though it is rented by an outside group, we still have to run it in keeping with church teachings,' Zwilling said. ``We include a clause in the lease to ensure that.'
The play debuted in the spring, running for 16 performances, and returned in August. Playwright Tom Disch, a self-described devout ex-Catholic, said he planned to attend tonight's performance.
RAPP - the initials don't stand for anything - promotes experimental film, dance and music as well as theater. It subleases space to 35 arts and social service groups.