The Answer Sheet Valerie Strauss

Thursday, October 29, 2009

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.

One recent instance occurred this week at Churchill High School in Potomac, where administrators abruptly canceled a production of "Chicago" three weeks before it was to be staged, my colleague Nelson Hernandez reported.

It was decided that without editing, the play was too racy. 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 that 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 "been together."

You can't make this stuff up.

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 canceled the play entirely on Monday, only to reverse herself yesterday after parent and student protests.

Sanity was restored.

But not in Las Vegas.

In that great city of virtue, parents went to court this month to stop Green Valley High School from allowing students to put on two plays: "The Laramie Project" and "Rent."

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