Open Forum

Disgruntled parents

  • 1.  Disgruntled parents

    Posted 01-29-2019 00:05
    Hello, we are having a couple of high school students direct a play for middle school students this year and they chose Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon, understanding that edits would need to be made to the script.  In our editing process (which I as the adult oversaw), I missed a scene that needed to be edited and learned of it after being contacted by a parent.  We made the necessary edits.  However, we have heard other parents discussing the show and how they are unhappy with the choice.  One parent of a cast member even said they would tell their family not to attend the show.  I don't think the play is inappropriate after the edits but I contacted each parent and let them know if they are uncomfortable with the script after edits ans don't want their student to continue, to please let me know.  Do I leave it at that and proceed with the students that are looking forward to it?  Do I call the show off and try something different later on?  It's been very stressful to deal with and I'm not sure what else to do.  Thank you.

    Kathy Camarena
    Theater Director
    Osage City High School
    Osage City KS

  • 2.  RE: Disgruntled parents

    Posted 01-30-2019 10:00

    First of all, I'm sorry to hear that, and I sympathize with your plight! 

    I definitely think there are some jokes that can be cut for community standards. What is acceptable in Kansas might not be the same as what's acceptable in Portland. (That said, my 10 year old son is currently in a production of TBGS here in Texas and I'm not concerned!) So I think you did the right thing to contact the parents to prevent rumors from spreading in your community. (When I first did this show, I had 5 parents hold out their kids and didn't tell me until the day of the performance! It's best to nip these things in the bud.) 

    This is a play that on occasion riles people up. It's also a show that's been produced 2,600 times and has appeared in 45 different countries - I'm guessing that a few of those have cut jokes here and there, and some others have been the unexpurgated version. 

    As a parent, I understand the idea of protecting your children. But I think some parents need to relax - especially in high school.  If you were doing Shakespeare, there would be far worse in the script, but the parents wouldn't complain. 

    In any event, I think you've done the right thing. 


    Don Zolidis
    Austin TX

  • 3.  RE: Disgruntled parents

    Posted 01-30-2019 10:16
    Oof. That's a bummer. Sending you lots of support from a far.

    I think you did the right thing. Addressing the issue directly with the parents demonstrates a transparency that has become the standard in education. When I've made what parents consider a mistake before and I own up to it, usually they are understanding. They are reminded that we are all human and therefore we err.

    That being said, one thing I usually do with more adult, or "racier" scripts is keep a copy on file in the office and notify parents they are welcome to stop in any time and peruse the edited version we'll be presenting on stage. They can email or call me with any questions they may have regarding the material. In 17 years I've never had a parent go into the office and read the script, but the fact that it's there and I'm providing them a window into the process helps them feel like their voice and concerns are meaningful to me. This process has worked for titles we've done like "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" "Young Frankenstein" and "A Few Good Men." Granted, I teach in a high school and middle school parents are a bit different; it may, however, be one strategy in involving your community in the overall production process.

    Like mentioned in another response, every community is different, and what is acceptable in suburban Denver still may not be acceptable in Osage City, Kansas, but at least, as the director, you have opened the lines of communication. It's A strategy, not THE strategy, if that makes any sense.

    I think you should proceed with the show. There are a lot of students who put a lot of time into it, and a lot of families who are appreciative of the work you and your students have done with the middle school students. The show must go on and this is educational theatre. What better lesson than this about the response of the audience?

    My best to you and your students.

    Tami LoSasso
    Chapter Director
    Colorado State Thespians
    Denver, CO

  • 4.  RE: Disgruntled parents

    Posted 01-31-2019 08:32
    I just had the same thing happen to my high school production of a different play.  What my thoughts came down to was this, while I had the total support of my principal if parents show up at a board meeting and complain about something that the director choose to do after all the hoopla, it will come down to your principal saying they left the decision up to the director and they choose to go ahead with the play.  My cast was horribly upset about my decision to choose a different play and I was heart broken but they understood that I did NOT want to spend my spring searching for a new job because of a play.  I've read everyone's responses and I couldn't agree with you more; kids need to learn how to deal with situations and parents need to relax some.

    Pamela Evitts
    Lamar MO