(Posted April 10, 2014)
By Amanda Amsel, Staff Writer
The show will go on.
Madison-Plains school administrators recently reversed a decision they made last month to halt the theater department’s plans to stage Tennesee Williams’ “A Street Car Named Desire.” The play will be presented at 7 p.m. May 2-3 and 2 p.m. May 4.
At issue was the play’s content, which administrators deemed to be controversial. Students and the play’s directors attended the March 18 school board meeting to state why they should be allowed to perform the show.
“This play tackles controversial issues that people of all ages have to deal with, so shielding us from them is really not going to help us,” said Marissa Knisley, a student playing the lead role in the production, at the March meeting.
The play tackles issues that include mental illness, domestic violence and substance abuse.
“If you look at statistics, kids are affected by these things as much as adults,” said Briana Richardson, co-director of the production and faculty advisor for the theatre department. “We are not protecting them by not talking about these things. We can really make this an educational opportunity for students and the audience.”
All students in the production are juniors and seniors and thoroughly discussed the play’s subject matter before signing up to be a part of it. Letters were also sent home to participants’ parents informing them of the subject matter.
“After a discussion with our instructors who are directing the play, we have decided to give them flexibility to see if they can pull this off,” said Chris Clark, high school principal. “We put our teachers in a position to make the best decisions for our students, so we want to support them.”
However, Clark said, a procedure will be put into place to prevent instances like this from happening again.
“In the future, before staff commits to a play and starts auditions and rehearsal, they will need to get approval from the administration,” he said. “We still have concerns about the production, but the kids seem creatively up for the challenge, so it will be interesting to see how it all turns out.”