PROVO -- Brigham Young University, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, canceled a Greek play that deals with wine and sex just hours before it was to be performed amid concerns it could be offensive.
BYU's Harris Fine Arts Center on Monday planned to host the University of Utah's production of Euripides' classic Greek tragedy "The Bakkhai."
The play was to have been performed at BYU in connection with the University of Utah's 39th annual Classical Greek Theatre Festival. BYU has hosted a performance of the University of Utah's annual Greek theater since 1982.
But a news release from BYU's Department of Theatre and Media Arts said that the approach of the production could have been problematic for audience members.
"While we respect the work of our colleagues at the University of Utah and plan to continue to have the annual Greek Festival perform at BYU, 'The Bakkhai' itself presents difficult material," the release said.
The University of Utah's version of the play is unconventional, featuring a classic rock 'n' roll score.
Department chairman Rodger Sorensen said BYU expected the play to be a traditional Greek theater interpretation.
"We felt that there were just some problematic staging things that would be difficult for some of our audience members," Sorensen said.
He said he and University of Utah professor Jim Svendsen talked and mutually decided to cancel the performance.
Larry West, director of the play for the University of Utah, said "The Bakkhai" has long been controversial.
"It deals with sex, violence and wine," he said. "Even the most conservative, the most tame translation can't avoid those issues."
Weber State University in Ogden presented "The Bakkhai" Wednesday night.
The more than 300 students who had bought tickets to "The Bakkhai" production at BYU were refunded their money and encouraged to see the play in the Red Butte Garden amphitheater, 300 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City.
The play will be staged at 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $13, through https://tickets.redbuttegarden.org.