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The B-Word Project Kicks Off

Published: September 1, 2011

Banned, Blacklisted and Boycotted: Censorship and the Response to It (The B-Word Project), is an 18-month, campus-wide initiative, that will run through December 2012. Coordinated by the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, the purpose of the project is to stimulate wide-ranging discussions and activities that examine what happens when a voice—whether in artistic endeavors, journalism, scientific research or other areas—is stifled through governmental, commercial, or social restraints, through innovative collaborations with departments, organizations and off-campus entities.

The B-Word Project will kick-off on Wednesday, Sept. 7, from 5-7 p.m. with a discussion featuring Kevin Johnson, research director at the CSULB Center for First Amendment Studies, as part of the Visiting Artist Lecture Series. His talk will focus on “Censorship and the First Amendment.” In addition, there will be an opening reception on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 5-8 p.m., featuring “Peace Press Graphics 1967-1987: Art in the Pursuit of Social Change.”

Activities, most of which are free, will include participation by the performing artists known as the NEA 4 (Tim Miller, Holly Hughes, John Fleck, and Karen Finley); many new course offerings; a reconstructed dance piece by Bill T. Jones performed by CSULB students; a major visual art exhibit on the Peace Press; a substantial look at newly restored censored murals by David Alfaro Siqueiros; a film series on the effects of the Hollywood blacklist and FCC decency/obscenity rules; a visiting artist series focusing on visual artists with informal meetings and lectures; a residency by Sweet Honey in the Rock with performances and workshops on the music of African Americans; and a lecture by Iranian author Azar Nafisi.

The film series component of The B-Word Project is a free, new course titled “Censoring the Cinema: The Blacklisted Actors, Writers and Directors,” which will examine the historical context for the infamous blacklisting of many Hollywood artists that arose from the anti-communist fervor of the 1940s and ’50s. Beginning at 7 p.m. over five Tuesday evenings at the Art Theatre on the 4th Street Corridor in Long Beach, the course will consist of a half-hour lecture by Craig R. Smith, director of the Center for First Amendment Studies at CSULB, followed by a screening of a film involving a blacklisted artist. Those interested can enroll in this course through the College of Continuing Professional Education or the B-Word Project website.

“I’m thrilled that The B-Word Project is able to complement the variety of offerings for the CSULB campus and performances at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center by bringing this new film and lecture course into another wonderful part of the Long Beach community,” stated Michele Roberge, executive director of the Carpenter Center.

B Word Badge

The course kicks off with “Spartacus” (Sept. 20), starring Kirk Douglas and Jean Simmons, and written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who is arguably the most famous of the blacklisted film professionals held in contempt by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and sent to jail. Next up is “High Noon” (Oct. 4), starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, and written by Carl Foreman, who refused to give names before the HUAC. The course continues with “The Little Foxes” (Oct. 18), starring Bette Davis and Herbert Marshall, based on the play by avowed Stalinist Lillian Hellman. Davis also stars in the next film, “Storm Center” (Nov. 1) as a besieged librarian during the McCarthy era. The course concludes with the satirical comedy “The Front” (Nov. 15), starring Woody Allen, who poses as a writer willing to front the work of blacklisted talents as his own.

For a complete list of events and information, visit The B-Word Project website.

The B-Word Project is made possible by a Creative Campus Innovations Grant from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.