About the “R” rating for “Blackbird”

We’ve had a few questions about the “R” rating on our poster for Blackbird. Let me explain:

Audiences seem to have different expectations when they see a live theatre production, as opposed to watching a movie or television show. We’re used to seeing comedies and musicals on stage, and serious dramas simply don’t get produced as often, especially in smaller towns. This can result in a surprise if you go to the theatre to see a drama expecting lighter fare.

Plays don’t get rated like films. When a play is produced that contains content that might not be appropriate for all ages, you typically see something like the disclaimer we’ve included on our poster: “Recommended for mature audiences.” We felt, however, that adding the familiar boxed “R” from film ratings on our poster would give potential audience members a fair idea what to expect, without giving away significant plot elements.

The play is about two people who are discussing in some detail a disastrous physical relationship that happened many years in the past. Some of the discussion is fairly explicit and not appropriate for those under 17 (hence the “R”). Nothing happens physically on stage, however, that you wouldn’t see or hear in an R-rated film or a series on HBO or Showtime. But the dialogue is intense and charged with emotion, and therefore we felt it was best to make that clear by placing both a disclaimer and the “R” on our advertising.

We also want to make it clear that while we’re performing the play at the college, The Borderline Theatre Company has rented the Fine Arts Theatre for two nights — this is not an SC4 production.

We hope you’ll come see Blackbird. David Harrower wrote a wonderful play with fabulous dialogue, which is why we are excited to perform it for you. That said, we’re not out to intentionally shock or offend anyone, so we also hope you’ll consider this information before deciding to attend one of our two performances.


Tom Kephart
Artistic Director
The Borderline Theatre Group

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