Well excuuuuuuse me! Steve Martin steps in when high school tries to ban his play


La Grande High School in eastern Oregon had intended to mount a production of Steve Martin's acclaimed 1993 play Picasso at the Lapin Agile. But one disapproving parent had other ideas. Objecting to some profanity, "adult themes," and accusing the play of being about, as Martin says, "people drinking in bars, and treating women as sex objects," a substitute teacher named Melissa Jackman rounded up 137 signatures on a petition to have the piece of art shut down. It worked. The school board, mortified of offending, stopped rehearsals before a single footlight had been lit.

The students, undeterred, laid plans to mount their show on the stage of nearby Eastern Oregon University, but ran well short of funds. Hearing of the censorship, Martin volunteered to pitch in so the show could go on. Leftover money will be used to fund scholarships.

In a letter to the editor of the La Grande Observer, which was published on Friday, Martin volunteered to help move the non-profit production off-campus, where parents can't touch it, to "prevent the play from acquiring a reputation it does not deserve." In response, Martin will open his checkbook.