I received a response to my letter to Robert Redford’s Sundance Resort regarding what I interpreted to be an Islamic crescent printed in a program for “Fiddler on the Roof”. Here is the response and my reply:
Dear Mr. Smith:
Thank you for your letter. It is wonderful to hear you enjoyed the performance of Fiddler on the Roof. We certainly enjoy the partnership between Sundance and Utah Valley University and the opportunity it affords us to provide our community with theater in a beautiful setting.
I appreciate the spirit in which you have reached out to seek understanding. Please know we would never knowingly include a graphic or symbol which could cause discomfort or make a political statement. We are proud to work alongside a cast, crew, and production staff who worked very hard to provide a show that our community could enjoy and the last thing any of us would want would be to cause offense. I think our director did a terrific job of stating our hopes for this production in his Director’s Notes. Our only message was meant to be one of family and community and in coming together in times of change and strife.
The graphic on the theater playbill was edited down from the larger image on the poster which included a moon and star filled sky. I spoke to our graphic designer and he explained that first he included just the moon in the playbill but felt it looked sparse, so added three stars and felt it looked busy, so then added just one star. The similarity is unfortunate and I assure you unintentional. We certainly should have caught this as we proofed the program and I can only say this is an oversight on our part.
I hope you will accept our sincere apologies. I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you and personally apologize if you would like to share your contact information with me. You mentioned hoping to share this response with others and I would like to better understand what you have in mind. I would be happy to personally apologize to all. I feel terrible about this and hope I might make amends with you and any others.
I greatly appreciate your understanding and explanation. No personal apology is necessary, I was just struck by the juxtaposition of the symbolism in the program with the content of the play. I work in the oil and gas business and have traveled all over the world, more extensively in South Asia, the Middle East and Israel and perhaps my sensitivities are heightened due to those experiences. The crescent and star almost jumped off the page at me.
As far as publication, I have been a blogger for about 8 years and have my own blog where I post and like a billion other people, also have a FaceBook page – I always want to present both sides of any issue. My only goal was to give your response a fair airing.
I am in Vancouver, Canada at present and will not be back in the US until August 22nd, I am moving around a bit. My mobile is XXX-XXX-XXXX – but as I said, a personal apology is unnecessary. It is not uncommon for symbols to be produced and utilized in one culture that have a completely different meaning in another.
Congratulations on your partnership with UVU, they have come a long way since I worked with them on employee training programs back in the early 90’s when they were still UVCC. My family and I look forward to seeing more of your co-productions.