Should student drama productions be restricted to PG themes?
You would think people have better things to fight about, but across the nation people are arguing--and even going to court--over high school plays. Yes, the drama productions that high school kids stage for other high school kids.
The latest instance occurred this week at Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., when administrators abruptly cancelled a production of “Chicago” three weeks before it was to be staged because it is too racy, my colleague Nelson Hernandez reported.
Never mind that these same officials had approved the production last spring when students first asked permission.
And never mind that the play is decades old and was turned into an Academy Award-winning movie, making it impossible for anybody at the school to claim they didn’t know it was about murder and sex and other themes, that, come to think of it, run through Shakespeare’s plays too.
But I digress.
Back at the school, someone got nervous and recently presented the students with a series of changes and cuts to the script to make it more appropriate for a teen audience.
Here’s an example: the word “copulated” was changed to “be together.”
You can’t make up this stuff.
The play’s publisher apparently denied the school the right to stage the play after hearing about the changes, although I wonder how the publisher learned about them.
THEN the principal cancelled the play entirely on Monday, only to reverse herself yesterday following parent and student protests.
Sanity was restored.
But not in Las Vegas.
In that great city of virtue, parents went to court earlier this month to stop Green Valley High School from allowing students to put on two plays--“The Laramie Project” and “Rent.”
The first is a play about the beating death of a gay man, and the second, a Pulitzer Prize-winning work with gay and sexual themes--both of which are too provocative for high school students, the suit says.
“Rent’s” gay themes caused controversy earlier this year at a school in Newport Beach, Ca. And on and on.
I understand that some people are offended by certain subjects and would rather not have to see a play about them.
I never find anything about Adolph Hitler funny and therefore am not enamored with the wildly popular play “The Producers,” which, by the way, caused a stir among some parents at Georgetown Day School in Washington but was allowed to be staged, and, I’m told, was fabulous.
But I wouldn’t try to tell a bunch of kids that they shouldn’t perform it in high school when they are of an age where they are confronting these controversial subjects in their daily lives.
Kids younger than high school students hear far more racy stuff than this--with no literary value--on television and radio, in the movies, and on the Internet. Has anyone ever seen the way teens dance? It’s like a big public sex act.
The point is not that I think they should dance that way; it is, rather, that adults who think they are protecting children are delusional. And no matter how much the Supreme Court limits the rights of student speech in school, I think this kind of censorship is an assault on free speech (which, you probably know, is important to journalists).
Finally, there just has to be more important things for adults to argue over about our nation’s schools than what play students produce.
What restrictions would you put on high school productions?
| October 28, 2009; 6:30 AM ET
Categories: Arts Education, High School | Tags: censorship, high school plays
Save & Share: Previous: Who is responsible for kids after school?
Next: 'Talking Out of School' .... with musician John Legend
Posted by: sctshep | October 28, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: LarryBud | October 29, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Sara | October 29, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Zoe3 | October 29, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: ProveMeWrong | October 29, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: sarahabc | October 29, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: theatrebob | October 29, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: exerda | October 29, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Fate1 | October 29, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: valmain1 | October 29, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: RossEmery | October 29, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.