Hi beautiful people,
I need your help to save one of my productions. It is an interactive murder mystery written for us that has two homosexual characters and deals with some adult themes (alcoholism, addiction, infidelity, pregnancy, and, of course, murder). A local parent has tried to kill it, and, while I feel like I can remove certain things from the production (especially the alcoholism and addiction), I am standing my ground on the homosexual characters. These characters are a loving, normal couple, and there would be absolutely no complaint about the characters if I would change one of them into a male character, but I feel like that will be compromising my personal and artistic integrity to do so.
My principal has asked me to present him with a list of plays produced recently or in planning or rehearsal that include homosexual characters or sexuality as a theme. It would probably also help me to return with a list of plays involving the type of adult themes that are written into the original (whether I choose to change them or not), and it would help me with this production and with another if I had a list of plays in which students portrayed a character of a different gender than their birth/assigned gender. If you can send me details on any production you have done or will be doing that fits the bill, along with a description of any problems that arose from that production, I would be most appreciative.
I think that what's important is that you are being sensitive to the material, your students and your community. There is always going to be someone who doesn't "get" what you're doing, or someone who just wants to make a fuss. I put up "Disaster!" as my musical last year. I did not change one thing, even the jokes that I thought were a bit over the top. I advertised the show as PG-13 and offered free babysitting services during the show for anyone under ten. I wrote a...well...brilliant (if I do say so myself) director's note about the tone of parody, and farce and the utter bizarreness of the 70's in general. Every actor, including ensemble members with two words, had a full script from the first day of rehearsal and were encouraged to share it with their parents.
The night after we closed, my principal forwarded me an email from a parent who was very upset at how inappropriate our show was for her 7 year old son, who just wanted to come and see his big brother, who was understudying a minor role. She was offended by gags that were in the script, characterization choices that I had vetoed MORE than once from an 11th grader singing "Do You Wanna Make Love" ironically to his girlfriend, and the fact that our dance ensemble wore shorts.
I asked the principal if he would like me to respond to the mom myself. I explained to him all of the precautions that we took and how a certain 11th grader would be taking the fall musical off this year. He said that he didn't think I needed to, and that I had it covered, and that sometimes parents just need to feel like they are being heard.Then he approved "Rent." :)
Theatre has never shied away from tackling the difficulties of human existence, and we would be doing a disservice to our students who are LGBTQ+ if we were to avoid characters who were homosexual because it might offend a close-minded individual in the community. I can think of no better way to show these students that they are accepted and respected than to allow them to portray characters that are LGBTQ+ in a mature, respectful fashion.
Great news, Matthew. I know it can be tiring to drag people into the 21st century, but keep fighting the good fight. Your kids no doubt appreciate it.Best,Jonathan