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A New York City off-Broadway theater pulled the plug on a pro-life play detailing the trial of convicted murderer and abortionist Kermit Gosnell that was slated to run simultaneously with an abortion comedy produced in part by Hollywood filmmaker JJ Abrams’ theatrical company. The playwright behind the pro-life production, Phelim McAleer, said the cancellation is censorship and “robs” people from hearing both sides of the issues surrounding abortion.
“I do want people to go and see both [plays] and to come to their own conclusions, which is something that Theatre Row wants to rob the people of – this ability to hear all the facts. What are they scared of?” McAleer told Fox News Digital in a phone interview Tuesday morning.
“Oh Gosnell: The Truth About Abortion” poster (Phelim McAleer)
The play “Oh Gosnell: The Truth About Abortion” is described as a “verbatim play about the horrors of abortion,” and was slated to launch at Theatre Row in New York City on the same night as “Oh God, A Show About Abortion.” The “Oh God” play is presented by comedian Ilana Glazer, best known for her role in the Comedy Central show “Broad City,” and produced in part by Bad Robot Live, the theatrical arm of JJ Abrams’ production company Bad Robot.
Ilana Glazer attends the 2019 Comedy Central Press Day on January 11, 2019 in Hollywood, California. ( Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
But last Thursday, McAleer’s Unreported Story Society received a letter from lawyers retained by Theatre Row’s parent company severing an agreement to host the play. The letter was reviewed by Fox News Digital and details that “the subject matter” in the Gosnell play is “inappropriate for children” and that they are “concerned for the safety of our staff and our neighbors” over the play.
McAleer said that claims of concern over “safety” is “the new censorship.”
“Safety is the new shut up,” McAleer said.
The letter from the lawyers added that “material information was withheld in a manner constituting fraud” and that the play’s “content violates material terms” of the agreement.
McAleer told Fox News Digital that “they haven’t explained what the fraud is,” and added that Theatre Row “went dark” last Wednesday and that the cancellation “just came out of the blue completely.”
Phelim McAleer speaks on Fox News about White House screening pro-life movie “Gosnell” amid abortion debate in 2019.
Theatre Row’s website details it has hosted other shows with disclaimers that a certain performance is not suitable for young children, including “H*tler’s Tasters,” which is described as a play that “explores the way girls navigate sexuality, friendship, patriotism and poison during the Third Reich.”
When asked why Theatre Row would cancel the Gosnell play, but run “H*tler’s Tasters,” McAleer said it’s “because they’re very happy sexualizing girls, but they’re not happy having an honest, artistic exploration about the issues around abortion.”
Fox News Digital sent requests for comment to representatives at Theatre Row on the cancellation but did not receive a response.
Despite the cancellation, “Oh Gosnell: The Truth About Abortion” will go on. The play will run from April 29 through May 15, with the official opening night on May 5 at the Chain Studio Theater.
“Oh God: A Show About Abortion” is also slated to open on May 5, and will run from April 25-June 4. McAleer told Fox News Digital he saw the abortion comedy Monday night and said it was “high on anecdote” but didn’t talk much about abortion.
“For – as they say – a show about abortion, it talks very little about abortion,” McAleer said, noting the production “danced around the subject,” while his production, hits “the subject square on the head.”
McAleer’s play, which is directed by L.A. director David Atkinson, is a verbatim performance, meaning it relies on testimony from Kermit Gosnell’s trial and interviews.
Gosnell is a former Philadelphia physician who was convicted in 2013 of murdering three babies born alive in an abortion clinic, as well as found guilty of involuntary manslaughter of an adult patient who was given a lethal dose of sedatives. He was also convicted of 21 felony counts of illegal late-term abortion, and 211 counts of violating Pennsylvania’s 24-hour informed consent law. He is serving two life sentences.
Dr. Kermit Gosnell is seen during an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News on March 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Daily News, Yong Kim, File)
“People speak in trials under oath. They can’t tell stories unless they’re backed up with evidence. So JJ Abrams’ play is full of stories that have no evidence. Ours is the actually complete opposite. The stories you’ll be hearing are fully backed up with evidence and fact,” McAleer said.
Director JJ Abrams arrives at the China premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in Shanghai, Dec. 27, 2015. (Reuters/Aly Song)
McAleer and his wife Ann McElhinney wrote the national best-seller “Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer” in 2017. A film adaptation of the book, starring Dean Cain, was released in 2018.
Abrams’ agent did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the matter.