Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

North Carolina High School Cancels Production of “Almost, Maine”

Just after the start of rehearsals for Almost, Maine at Maiden High School in Maiden, North Carolina, school administrators pulled the plug, stating that the piece was “not aligned with [their] mission and educational objectives.”

The play is a series of vignettes about love. In one scene, two male buddies realize they’re in love. In this article, Howard Sherman (one of my fave theatre bloggers; current interim director of The Alliance for inclusion in the Arts) gives a detailed account of what’s happening with the cancelled production. He interviews students and teachers, reaches out to administration, references public postings about the topic, and speaks with the playwright himself. You can read the article for all the intricacies. With this kind of article, Sherman is likely to post updates to the situation as well.

It seems that Maiden High School has, under the pressure of local churches and some parents, cancelled the performance for its homosexual content. I think that the playwrights response articulates how detrimental this decision will prove to be:

“…they are calling into question the validity of same-sex love by making it seem wrong and different and other. They are allowing a dangerous cycle of fear and self-hatred among LGBTQ youth to continue, and, consequently, they are tacitly promoting homophobia. By canceling the play, it seems to me that school officials are pleasing parents and pillars of the community rather than serving the students.”

Fortunately, the students have decided to continue with the production off campus. They have received an outpouring of support from their community and they’ve started their own Kickstarter (which has already reached more than triple it’s goal). However, it seems that the school district is getting off easy. I think the cancellation of the production cultivates negativity around homosexuality, encouraging students to think a certain way or possibly to feel scared for who they are. How can we allow this kind of behavior in an educational setting? When will these “adults” learn that their discrimination toward homosexuality is obscene?

fj

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One comment on “North Carolina High School Cancels Production of “Almost, Maine”

  1. dianalfreeberg
    October 25, 2014

    This is so upsetting but not altogether shocking. Unfortunately situations like these are all too common in the south. “Don’t show gay people on stage, because then it might make someone in the audience gay…” You would think, in 2014, that we wouldn’t still be having this conversation.

    What I find most sad is the statement from the school. Its words seem cold and detached, and instead of supporting an artistic decision, they are choosing to alienate. Instead of finding an educational opportunity in the performance, they are letting fear dictate their actions.

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