Thursday, October 04, 2007


My district’s one-act play competition is on December 1. I read a lot of plays (a LOT of plays) to try to find one I liked enough to direct. Finding a play for a middle school contest isn’t easy. Most plays are either way over their heads in subject and tone, or way below their intellectual level. Everything is Arthur Miller, or melodramas for six-year-olds.

That’s why I was thrilled when I found the play I wanted to do. It’s a quirky little play about a twelve-year-old boy who flees from the oppressive military regime in an unnamed Latin country. The boy goes on a kind of hero’s journey, meeting characters from Mexican mythology and folk tales on his journey north. In the end, he is captured crossing the border into America, but he promises that his story will be remembered. The play is fun, challenging, thought-provoking, and age-appropriate. I have just enough time to start rehearsals and get it the way I want it for the contest. I have a clear vision in my head of what I want, and I know my kids will be successful.

Too bad my principal told me today that I can’t do it.

The city my district is in made national news recently because of a city ordinance requiring landlords to check citizenship papers before renting apartments. Those in favor of this policy say that it will force those who don’t pay taxes out of the city. Those who oppose this policy say that it’s illegal to turn landlords into INS agents. Immigration is a hot-button topic in my district, and my principal doesn’t want a play dealing with it.

I told her that the play’s plot really isn’t about immigration at all, it’s just a factor in the climax. This play is about immigration like King Kong is about skyscrapers. But even if this play was all about immigration, wouldn’t that make my school an ideal place to produce this play? Wouldn’t Little Rock’s Central High School have benefited by reading Langston Hughes poems in 1954?

She asked the head of fine arts what he thought, and he’s asking the guy above him, but I imagine they’ll uphold my principal’s decision. I’m so frustrated about this. Last year my school did The Yellow Boat, about an eight-year-old with AIDS, and Then They Came For Me, about the Holocaust. Is a story about a kid meeting Mexico’s mythological figures more controversial than that?

So now I have to start from the beginning and find a whole new play. I’ll probably do Midsummer, since I’ve already done a good cutting and I know the play well, but my heart’s just not in it.


At 3:06 PM, Blogger chitarita said...

You never know what they'll decide to object to - I'm still surprised at what passes and what doesn't.

And, hey, you're treading on dangerous ground with "Midsummer". When I did it, I was pulled into the principal's office because a teacher complained that I was promoting homosexuality. Baffled, I asked how. It was... brace yourself... because there were fairies in it.

What's the name/author of the play? I'd like to read it.


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