From "Romeo and Juliet" to Don Imus, "West Side Story" to MySpace, the issue of appropriate topics, appropriate discussions and appropriate music has gone on for centuries. But who gets to decide? And is there ever a right decision?

That's the question posed at Plan-B Theatre Company's sixth annual fundraiser, "And the Banned Played On," which brings to light literary, musical, theatrical and artistic works that, over the years, have been banned.

This year, the focus is on theater — spanning back to the 1500s.

"More important than when it was banned is why it happened," said Jerry Rapier, producing director of Plan-B. "It's a mix of things that have happened locally, nationally and internationally, both recently and from years ago."

The evening is a mix of scenes acted by local actors, some musical numbers, and an introduction to each piece with a brief explanation of what the issue was.

Mary Dickson, who wrote "Exposed," which Plan-B produced, has been involved with "Banned" for years. "To me, it's just about celebrating the First Amendment and how important freedom of speech is.

"I've always been surprised by some of the things that have been banned and the reasons," she said, mentioning past highlighted works such as "To Kill a Mockingbird" and the children's book, "Captain Underpants."

Dickson, who also teaches literature classes at the University of Utah, thinks it's important for people to know, "I'm always amazed at the research on Plan-B's part to find the things that have been banned and the reason they've been banned."

"I get at least a couple of e-mails a month saying, 'Did you see this?' or 'You should include this in 'Banned.'" said Rapier, who keeps an ongoing file of stories on his computer. "People are invested beyond just attending — people are invested in what's happening."

True to past years, Rapier has gathered prominent local figures to participate. The evening will be hosted by X-96's Bill Allred and NPR's Doug Fabrizio, who will introduce the presenters and will also act a scene from a banned 1927 Mae West play called, "The Drag."

"It's just really interesting," said Allred in a phone interview, "In terms of talking about what's been banned. That someone can say, 'Because I deem this unacceptable, no one else should see it,' is really interesting."

Another fun twist this year is having four former Salt Lake mayors participating — Rocky Anderson, Deedee Corradini, Palmer DePaulis and Ted Wilson, as well as current mayor Ralph Becker.

"I'm not sure if they've all been together before," said Rapier. "I think they were all really gracious and happy to be involved."

Allred, in his trademark dry wit, quipped, "I can only hope for fireworks (between the mayors), and if not, I might be able to stir something up."

"I think people can expect a highly enlightening and entertaining evening with lots of good music and some beautiful performances," Dickson said.

"At the end of the day, it's just a really good time. It's really a lot of fun." Rapier added, "There's a post-show reception with a cash bar, and it's really just a party. We wanted a fundraiser that wasn't cost-prohibitive, and it's a very casual summer evening."

If you go ...

What: Plan-B Theatre Company's sixth annual fundraiser, And the Banned Played On

Where: Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South

When: Monday, 7 p.m.

How much: $35

Phone: 355-2787


E-mail: [email protected]