School Theatre and Citizen Censorship

10 08 2007

You know the kids are doing a show right now, The Scarlet Pimpernel?

It’s not academic. It’s real community theatre produced and directed by an experienced company of pros through their own regionally respected musical theatre organization.

As a company, the director and his creative team run the show, deciding everything from which shows to produce, to who’s right for which assignment in each show. As a family, we decide what productions each child should or shouldn’t be involved in. (There was an eight-foot sheer drop Favorite Daughter made playing a roustabout in “Side Show” that I sweated every night, for example. “Jekyll and Hyde” had one dance so raunchy, it made me grateful FavD was too young at 13 to be cast, but she begged to run crew and we let her; I sneaked off to the matinee alone so Young Son never even saw it.)

Which brings me to: as a community, members of the public decide whether to buy tickets or not.

THAT’S who draws the line when it’s real. Pretty educational, huh? 🙂

But the schools don’t agree —

“Censorship and School Theatre: Who Draws the Line?”

. . .It is not surprising that there is frequently a certain tension
between a professional theatre educator’s idea of the kind of dramatic
literature that will best serve the needs of her students and the ideas of some members of a community about what is appropriate for a sixteen-year-old to do and say on the stage.

Sometimes those tensions are expressed in open conflict.

A student, a parent, an administrator, or a citizen who may not even
have a child in the school will raise objections to a particular piece of theatre
that’s planned for production. Other voices will join the discussion. Depending on the community and how the teacher and school administrators respond, the dispute might move in an orderly way toward a quiet resolution,
or it might not. . .

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14 responses

10 08 2007
JJ
11 08 2007
Alasandra

You know I have never understood people who need to control other people. If you don’t approve of a show, don’t go see it, if you have children forbid them to see it. But why on earth do they feel the need to prevent the people who do approve of it and want to see it from seeing it.

These are the same people who try to take books they don’t like off the public library shelves.

11 08 2007
JJ

Right. After all these years of school policy conflicts that never get resolved, I’m coming to think it must be something to do with a key ethics error in our whole system of controlling others for their own good.

Until we face that and fix it, I don’t see how we fix anything.

11 08 2007
JJ

Which btw, is one of the great lessons of theatre through the ages. 🙂

13 08 2007
JJ

Bleah! Schools and churches probably just loo-ooove “High School Musical” as suitable art for growing minds and spirits and now with the movie sequel coming out, there’s a stage version too:

Recently a nascent creed has stolen the hearts and minds of thousands of young Americans. Its key tenets include the idea that everyone gets along really well in high school, and thus that being a teenager is super fun.

The name of this new religion is “High School Musical.”

. . .Whether this accords with current reality in American high schools I cannot say, and frankly doubt. But religious devotion is not really about encountering the harsh truths of the world . . .

20 08 2007
JJ

. . .a basic lesson of social psychology and related fields is that we all occupy role schemas (doctor, customer, flight attendant, officer, and so on), have person schemas for those we know, and create self-schemas or narratives [power of story!] for ourselves to help make sense of who we are.
Role-playing is everywhere, though typically it is only implicit.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign researchers Reed Larson and Jane Brown recently followed a group of high school students in a situation with many new roles to play: a theater program.

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21 12 2010
JJ

(There was an eight-foot sheer drop Favorite Daughter made playing a roustabout in “Side Show” that I sweated every night, for example.

Witnesses saw either the actor playing the title character or his stunt double fall 8 to 10 feet during the performance.

Video of the Fall

21 12 2010
JJ

Just heard it was the fourth significant injury in getting this one show ready, and it is still in previews, still hasn’t officially opened!

I don’t think I would risk taking my children to see it, much less audition for it. Although hmmm, we did do Peter Pan with “flying by Foy” here, and children/teen dancers were the flyers. No one was ever hurt.

UPDATE mid-afternoon Tuesday. OSHA supposedly has been supervising the stunts yet as many as NINE injuries have been noted by the Actors Equity union, which as you might imagine is not happy. Broadway is business, too.

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