Villanova president says why he canceled Tim Miller performance

Posted: February 23, 2012

Villanova University president the Rev. Peter M. Donohue said he canceled a performance by a gay performance artist because of the subject matter, not the artist's sexual orientation.

Faced with growing questions from students and others about the decision, Donohue issued a statement Wednesday evening to the Villanova community explaining his reason for banning a weeklong workshop by Tim Miller.

"As an artist and a priest, I find the choices that Mr. Miller makes to be disturbing," wrote Donohue, former director of Villanova's theater department. "While some may disagree, as president of Villanova University I can assure you it is the explicit, graphic, and sexual content of his performances that led to this decision."

The university's communications department invited Miller, whose past performances have included simulated sex and nudity. Its department chairman, Maurice Hall, said this week that the department went through the approval process and that Miller's work at Villanova would not have included simulated sex and nudity.

Donohue did not become aware of the event until criticism from the Cardinal Newman Society and others came out, the university said. University officials then took a closer look at Miller's content on video and, based on their review, decided to cancel the program, officials said.

"While it was difficult and complex, I stand by this decision," Donohue wrote.

Reached by e-mail, Miller said that other colleges, including Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Muhlenberg, have stepped up to find a way to conduct the workshop off-site the week of April 16, with Villanova students being able to attend.

He objected to Donohue's characterization of his work.

"I am shocked by President Donohue's grotesque mischaracterization of my performance work - especially considering he is someone who has never seen me perform," Miller said. "What shameful disrespect he displays for the faculty who were bringing me to Villanova and to the hundreds of other universities, arts centers, and theaters who present my work."

He said he also was "in awe of the courage and resilience of the Villanova students who are outraged by Donohue's actions."


Contact staff writer Susan Snyder at 215-854-4693, ssnyder@phillynews.com, or @ssnyderinq on twitter.

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