Open Forum

Solving the Problem of Little Shop?

  • 1.  Solving the Problem of Little Shop?

    Posted 03-17-2020 14:04
    Hello all,

    Just wanted to throw a question out there to the collective wisdom of the group.

    I am just starting to think about my season for next year.  Many of my kids would like to do Little Shop of Horrors which would fit us pretty well and which has a whole lot of positives.  But I am finding it very hard to get around Audrey and Orin's relationship and what I see as the presentation of abuse in a humorous manner.

    Things have changed a lot since this show was written, and in the era of #MeToo it seems to me that a series of jokes about a relationship that is clearly domestic abuse is basically untenable.   Particularly in a high school setting.  That is not a message that I want to present on my stage.

    So my question is whether any of you have found a good way to direct around that issue or if anyone has successfully petitioned MTI to alter any of those lines.  ​

    Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

    I hope you are all hanging in there with show cancellations and suspension of classes,
    Chris

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    Christopher Sheldon
    Performing Arts Teacher
    Bancroft School
    Worcester MA
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  • 2.  RE: Solving the Problem of Little Shop?

    Posted 03-18-2020 03:42
    I should also mention that I got permission from MTI to change "you little slut" to "you little tramp." Not too much better, but I had a visceral reaction to the original wording, I could only imagine how my audiences would react.

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    Jodi Disario
    Director of Drama
    Willow Glen High School
    San Jose, CA
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  • 3.  RE: Solving the Problem of Little Shop?

    Posted 03-18-2020 03:44
    We are currently producing Little Shop (probably getting postponed) but I've treated the relationship and entire show much more seriously. We don't have a lot of the usual, campy caricatures often seen in productions. Orin is an abuser and it's not funny. Seymour's reactions to Orin's lines are the key to making this much more believable and realistic.





  • 4.  RE: Solving the Problem of Little Shop?

    Posted 03-18-2020 03:48
    Apparently my original post didn't go through. Basically:

    Little Shop is the show we lost to COVID-19 5 days before opening. The way that we were handling the Orin/Audrey relationship was to have Orin underplay- not playing for laughs in any scene with Audrey. We found that having him talk low, quiet, and slow made his abusiveness even scarier. We did the slap on the other side of the "window," which is made of scrim. It takes the focus off of the actual slap.

    We also included a half page in our program with a hotline for people in abusive relationships to call. It was sponsored by the YWCA.

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    Jodi Disario
    Director of Drama
    Willow Glen High School
    San Jose, CA
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  • 5.  RE: Solving the Problem of Little Shop?

    Posted 03-18-2020 11:22
    I had a parent freak out about that same issue after a rehearsal. She threatened to pull her daughter out of the show because of it. Of course, the parent didn't have her freak out in front of me, so I didn't get to respond to her, but I had a response ready: Clearly, the relationship is abusive, and that is one side of "unbalanced relationships" presented in the show. But, in order to show a "solution to a problem," you have to show the problem first.  Several relationships in the show are unbalanced or unhealthy in some way. If that upsets you/the audience, then good! You see a problem on stage that reflects a problem in society. So, go fix it in society so we no longer have to show it on stage to draw attention to it. How is the problem fixed? Well, who is the first person to be eaten? The mental and physical abuser. No, violence shouldn't be the first solution, but it's what Seymour turns to...for which he is later punished. Lots of good lessons to learn from this show, IF you give it a chance. Now don't get me started on Urinetown!

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    Kevin Welsh
    Auditorium Director
    Columbus East High School
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  • 6.  RE: Solving the Problem of Little Shop?

    Posted 03-18-2020 17:13
    We are working with our school counseling team to provide appropriate resources about abuse and drug use.

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    Jessica Shaw
    Speech and Drama Teacher
    Alexandria VA
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  • 7.  RE: Solving the Problem of Little Shop?

    Posted 03-19-2020 07:15
    Good morning,

    These are all great ideas and ways to deal with abuse. When we did the show we actually had someone come and talk to the cast about domestic abuse. It went over really well.

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    Crit Fisher
    Lighting/Sound Designer
    New Albany High School
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  • 8.  RE: Solving the Problem of Little Shop?

    Posted 03-19-2020 11:03
    The angry "Little Shop" letter we got was about singling out one religious group in a blasphemous way, when Oren the dentist says, "Jesus Christ!!."  The ironic part of this story is that the letter was from one of our guidance counselors. Did he object to the mental and physical abuse Audrey goes through? Nope.  We did get a chance to talk and I "gave [him] something to think about" with that.  I also pointed out that villainizing a character with rough speech was not only an efficient way of telling the audience who the bad guys are, but also a foreshadowing of the price he would pay -- with his life, in this case.

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    Douglas "Chip" Rome
    Theatre Consultant
    Educational Stages
    Burke VA
    http://bit.ly/EdStages
    http://bit.ly/RWTEOview
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  • 9.  RE: Solving the Problem of Little Shop?

    Posted 03-19-2020 11:39
    Same thing here. I did not get any complaints about the black eye, the broken arm, the name-calling, the violence. Nobody complained about the violence against Audrey. The only complaint I got was that Oren says, "Jesus Christ" while he does it.

    People.

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    Jeff Johnson
    Director of Theatre Arts
    Del Oro High School
    Loomis CA
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