Musical Theatre Gets Teacher Ousted (yes, again)

16 03 2007

You knew I couldn’t let this one go unblogged, not after Urinetown and please note, that was at least a school play involving the students — this is more seriously overreaching, especially in a state where the school boards apparently can’t even keep convicted arsonists and aggravated assaulters away from the kids on campus.

We at this very moment have The Full Monty in rehearsal here in Tallahassee community theatre, and some of the less-happy government employees involved are plotting to GET themselves fired for appearing in it, if possible! 🙂

UPDATE – Lawyer’s advice sought on ‘Monty’

The Charlotte County School District holds off action against teacher
until it gets an opinion.

By PATRINA A. BOSTIC

CHARLOTTE COUNTY –The school district wants a legal opinion on
whether it can enforce an ultimatum it gave a Lemon Bay High School
teacher who flashes his bottom in “The Full Monty” musical.

After meeting Thursday with part-time teacher Jason Brenner,
officials announced that no action will be taken until the school
board’s attorney makes a recommendation.

Brenner’s attorney, Thomas Hudson, said at least one school official
should see the play before the district makes a decision.

“They are in a difficult process of deciding whether artistic freedom
is more important than a flash of the (bottom),” Hudson said.

Even ethics experts are divided on the issue.

The brouhaha has created attention nationwide since the school
district told Brenner that he could stop doing the musical, take
himself out of the naked scene or resign his teaching role at the
Englewood school.

“We’re reviewing the facts of the matter and the legal ramifications
of it,” said Mike Riley, spokesman for Charlotte County Public School
District.

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Doug Whittaker and Lemon
Bay High Principal Dan Jeffers met Thursday with Brenner and his
attorney.

Brenner later said he told school officials that his role in the play
at Venice Little Theatre has had no bearing on his effectiveness as a
teacher.

Brenner said he expects a decision next week.

“The Full Monty” is a musical based on the British hit film. Brenner
plays Dave Bukatinsky, one of several out-of-work steel workers in
Buffalo, N.Y., who strip for a night to raise money.

Brenner said he already had been planning to leave the school at the
end of the semester to devote more time to his work as a music
director, vocal coach and church singer and pianist.

Brenner, who doesn’t have a teaching certificate, had been teaching
two hours a day at $27 an hour on a temporary assignment. He has
continued as musical director of the school’s “Cats” production,
which opened Thursday.

Riley said district officials have declined interviews with national
media about the Lemon Bay case.

“There are a lot of good things happening at that school right now
and a lot of teachers and students working hard to reach their
education goals,” Riley said.

“Really, this has just been a distraction.

But here’s the story with the most relevant perspective for me:

[snook-cocking emoticon here]
“CHARLOTTE COUNTY — An ethics expert says a teacher who shows his bare bottom in a musical shouldn’t be punished the same way a teacher would be if he robbed a liquor store or plagiarized a paper. . .”

Ya THINK??


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4 responses

22 04 2007
JJ

Favorite Daughter and her soprano dance company friend took our season tickets to see The Full Monty today. The rest of us were at Young Son’s vocal ensemble performance. BY the time we realized the conflict, it was too late to change the show tickets, because it is SOLD OUT! Even the extended run is sold out. With good reason, reports Favorite Daughter and her friend. And they say there’s nothing to be firing anyone over, either. Mostly it is clever back-lighting and suggestion, although Sunday afternoons are when the nursing home bus brings a load of patrons to the show — Favorite Daughter claims the little old ladies were whooping and throwing underwear onto the stage (swear to god and hope to die!)

Young Son was good, he really was. But I didn’t whoop. It was most refined and he even was given a boutonneire by the studio director to wear during the performance (for which he was unfortunately underdressed but hardly exposed!) with a lovely reception to follow.

23 04 2007
Gimme A Head With Hair! « Cocking A Snook!

[…] last night at Snook Too as Favorite Daughter blogs again, not about yesterday’s matinee of The Full Monty in all its mundane male immodesty nor Daniel Radcliffe aka Harry Potter breaking out his birthday suit in Equus, but more like the […]

4 09 2007
JJ

SENTINEL EXCLUSIVE
Bishop nixes Trinity Prep play
The move to cancel ‘La Cage aux Folles’ riles students and parents

Leslie Postal and Dave Weber
Sentinel Staff Writers
September 1, 2007

The school theater production aimed to “push the limits,” and it did — way too far for its conservative Episcopal bishop.

Trinity Preparatory School canceled its opening-night performance of La Cage aux Folles on Friday at the request of Bishop John Howe, head of the Diocese of Central Florida.

“His request was not to stage the production, and we decided to honor his request,” said Headmaster Craig Maughan, who called off Friday’s and tonight’s planned performances. “I met with the cast and all the people involved in the production and announced the decision and explained it to them.”

“There was disappointment among students, but I would say they understood.”

The award-winning musical comedy, which opened on Broadway in 1983, features a middle-aged gay couple and actors dressed in drag.

Howe learned about the performance when he read a story about it in Thursday’s Orlando Sentinel. Howe said in an e-mail response to questions that he recognized it was difficult to cancel a show hours before the curtain went up but said he was grateful for Maughan’s decision.

The bishop was surprised “that any high school would sponsor this particular production,” he wrote. “Having to put a ‘PG-13’ warning label on a dramatic production certainly seems an unusual decision for a Christian preparatory school.”

Howe, a leader of conservative bishops in the Episcopal Church, USA, has been vocal on issues of sexual orientation and in 2003 strongly opposed the election of an openly gay man as bishop of New Hampshire. That election, and the issue of blessing same-sex unions, has created a rift in the Episcopal Church.

Trinity Prep, which is on the border of Orange and Seminole counties, is one of four high schools in the Central Florida diocese.

Maughan said he would meet with the school’s administrative council and board of directors early next week and decide whether to hold performances at the school next week.

“I’m very sad,” said Janine Papin, chairwoman of Trinity Prep’s fine-arts program and director of the show.

But she also hoped for “a happy outcome” — perhaps off-campus performances — and had “faith in some very strong leaders” at the school where she has worked for eight years.

Mostly, she said she was sorry misconceptions about the musical had brought problems to Trinity.

“La Cage really isn’t about a gay couple. It’s about family,” Papin said. “It’s funny and endearing, and there’s a wonderful message about being comfortable with who we are. And it really doesn’t have to deal with sexuality.”

In the show, one partner runs a French nightclub and the other performs there as a drag queen. Their life is upended when one man’s son brings home his fiancee and her ultraconservative parents. The musical, which won several Tony Awards, was also made into an American movie, The Birdcage, staring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.

Last week, Papin told the Sentinel she picked the show because she wants “to push the limits so that there are very few shows that are off-limits for the kids because of sexual orientation or because of religious differences or whatever it is.”

The performances were to be the culmination of Trinity Prep’s intensive summer musical-theater class.

Papin had told Trinity Prep administrators of her selection and was asked to put a PG-13 label on promotional posters. Her news release explained the show involved a gay couple and said “the audience should be age appropriate for the content.”

No one seemed concerned, she said. Earlier Friday, posters for the show dotted the campus, and a number of Trinity Prep students wore T-shirts touting the show.

“I had no idea that this sort of nonsense would come up at the last minute,” she added.

The student cast members were told of the decision late Friday, some as they arrived on campus to get ready for what they thought was a 7:30 p.m. performance — the first of six planned shows.

One mother said her child was “absolutely furious” about the cancellation.

The mother asked not to be identified after the headmaster asked parents and students not to comment to the press.

“I would like the show to go on. It has absolutely nothing to do with the bishop,” the mother said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with the church.”

The mother noted the musical ran on Broadway for many years and preaches a message of tolerance, a message that many students take to heart.

The cast was mostly students from the prep school, though it included a few from public high schools and 20-year-old Benjamin Rush. He stepped in to play one of the leading men when the student actor was injured.

“I understand this is a private school, a religious school,” Rush said, but that didn’t make the decision easier for the cast. “I’m upset because of the censorship of the arts.”

Headmaster Maughan said the school would continue to produce “challenging productions,” but added, “It is important to evaluate the importance of musicals or plays and consider them in light of our position as an Episcopal school.”

Correspondent Jill Duff-Hoppes contributed to this report. Leslie Postal can be reached at 407-420-5273 or lpostal@orlandosentinel.com. Dave Weber can be reached at 407-320-0915 or dweber@orlandosentinel.com.

Copyright © 2007, Orlando Sentinel

23 09 2007
Banned Books Week Needs More Than Celebration This Year « Cocking A Snook!

[…] and screen, Don Imus on radio, Dan Rather and Swiftboat veterans on TV, the school play canceled just for having a vaguely offensive name (”Urinetown.”) Movie word-censoring, even done […]

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