Sunday, June 10, 2007

Controversial Student Play finally goes on

Another case of censorship in our schools and in the theater. These students pulled together a series of monologues from source material, rehearsed and practiced and then were cut short just three weeks before the production was scheduled to open.

I understand that people have strong feelings on political issues such as the war, but theater is supposed to make you think. Would it really have been any better to stage a "safe" musical or is there more value in encouraging the students to think about difficult issues. I lean towards the value in encouraging young people to think, express their views and become involved.

In Connecticut, on June 6th, Months after their principal canceled the school production about the war in Iraq, Wilton High School students staged a dramatic reading of the play Wednesday night to a packed house at a nearby theater. The principal justified canceling the show by citing concerns about how it might be seen as biased against the war and might ruffle feelings in the community, which had lost one recent graduate to the war. He also said he did not think there was enough classroom and rehearsal time to ensure “a legitimate instructional experience.”

Sixteen cast members clutched their scripts and captivated a standing-room-only audience of 225 people. At several points during the 50-minute performance of the play, called “Voices in Conflict,” at the Fairfield Theater Company, audience members gasped, laughed and whistled appreciatively.

The play, which had been assigned as part of an advanced drama class, had been conceived as a series of monologues. Students helped their teacher, Bonnie Dickinson, assemble materials from film, books, blogs and other sources in an effort to portray the views of actual soldiers and others on the conflict in their own words. By tackling a topical play, Ms. Dickinson said she had hoped to deliver a more worthwhile experience for her students than usual high school fare like “Grease.” (more)

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