Student actors defend controversial play selection

0
451

 

Messenger photo by Amanda Amsel High school student Ross Higbee addresses Madison-Plains school board members in defense of the theater department’s decision to stage the Tennessee Williams play, “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Messenger photo by Amanda Amsel
High school student Ross Higbee addresses Madison-Plains school board members in defense of the theater department’s decision to stage the Tennessee Williams play, “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

By Amanda Amsel, Staff Writer

Students and faculty involved in Madison-Plains High School’s theater productions attended the March 18 school board meeting to address issues regarding their spring play.

The group hopes to present Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

“We had already cast the production and had two rehearsals when our director called a cast meeting and told us the administration had issues with the content of the play and would not allow us to proceed with the production,” said Marissa Knisley, a student playing the lead role in the production. “Our director proposed we come here tonight and discuss with the board why we feel we should be able to do this play.”

Several students in the play, along with the faculty directors, said the play is relevant to the Madison-Plains community and appropriate for high school students.

“When I first heard about this play, I was even unsure I wanted to do it,” said Emma Davis, a student actor. “This play is intense and can be very dark. However, after I read the script, I went from not wanting to do it to being willing to come here and talk to you about it.”

The play centers on the character Blanche Dubois who is mentally ill and moves in with her sister and abusive brother-in-law in New Orleans. The story addresses the issues of sub-stance abuse, domestic violence, rape and mental illness.

“In the past, we have done a lot of comedies, so this is the first time we have really done a play that tackles some hot button issues,” said Scott Spohler, co-director of the production and faculty advisor for the theatre department. “A lot of thought went into selecting this play, and the reason we chose to do this play with this specific group is because these kids have been together for three to four years and we feel they are mature enough to discuss these real life issues.”

All of the students in the production are juniors and seniors and have received permission from their parents to be in the production. A letter detailing the production was sent home to parents; a signature was required for students to continue to be part of the play.

“We know this is a far cry from the comic romps that we have done in the past, but we wanted to push students to broaden their knowledge of the world around them,” said Briana Richardson, co-director of the production and faculty advisor for the theatre department. “We are not saving our students by not talking about these issues. These issues are still out there, so why not let them learn about them in a safe environment.”

Students also argued that many want to pursue acting after high school and performing in a production like this would enhance their resumés.

“Being in a production like this will help us grow as actors,” said Ross Higbee, a student actor. “Having something like this on my resumé could really help me with my career, so I hope you will really consider letting us put on this show.”

If approved by the school board, the production will take place May 2-4.

Organizers of the production have invited groups including A Friend’s House (Madison County’s domestic violence shelter), Ohio Domestic Violence Network, National Alliance on Mental Illness Ohio, and Mental Health Services for Clark and Madison Counties to have educational information at the production.

As of press time, no decision had been made on whether or not the production will continue as planned. School board members did not state an opinion during the board meeting.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.