BWW Exclusive: Colorado High School Attempts To Censor LGBTQ Related Performance; Principal Responds
A high school in Aurora, Colorado is reportedly attempting to censor performances of LGBTQ-related material as part of an upcoming planned actor's showcase according to a series of new social media posts and a recent local news report and both the student's comments and an exclusive letter from the principal have been obtained by BroadwayWorld today.
In the social media posts, it is revealed that Cherokee Trail High School Theatre Department's advanced acting class intended to present a performance focusing on LGBTQ-related themes including homosexuality and transgenderism but was thwarted in their efforts by the administration who cut the portion of the show dealing with the issues on April 15, citing that such a performance would "make the community uncomfortable," student Matthew Lomas shared.
Subsequently, a Twitter account and Facebook page has been established titled Not Original which is intended to counteract the censorship with social activism, prompting supporters to wear black and brandish buttons proclaiming "Not Original" as well as participate in a day of silence.
Follow Not Original on Twitter here.
Student and Not Original member Josette Axne has reached out to several schools to share her story of censorship with a passionate plea spelled out in an extensive letter describing the situation. The letter is reprinted here in full:
"Sitting in my theatre class I walk in and sit next to my creative inspiring classmates and we all got the news that all of our original work would have to be cut. Our show was called Evolution and it's been about the evolution of love from William Shakespeare to original one act, songs, poems, and scenes.
Most of our show was original work with themes of homosexuality, transsexual, and Domestic Violence because we were all inspired by theses ideas that are intertwined within our society especially as highschoolers.
We were told by "the school administration" that "The community wasn't ready for these topics and it would make our tax-payers uncomfortable" we have been working on this show for 12 weeks and we got the news today April 15th TAX DAY that the original work would have to be cut. A week before our show April 24th. The administration told us " Homosexuality, domestic abuse, and transgender ideas were not topics that the community would think are appropriate" "and there wasn't enough time to do this for the rest of the year"
We started a movement called #NotOriginal its on twitter as I write. We made a new show in the hour we had left in theatre and our new show will address censorship in the arts, the new show is our new movement... the show is on April 24th 7:00pm at Cherokee Trail High School's Auditorium. The show has been revised to meet amistrations requirements."
In response to the claims of censorship, BroadwayWorld reached out to the principal of Cherokee Trail High School, Kim Rauh, whose letter received this evening through Director Of Communications for the Cherry Creek School District, Tustin Amole, is reprinted here in full:
"Thank you for contacting us directly for accurate information and not relying solely on social media. Below is the communication the principal sent to parents at the school yesterday. You may quote directly from it. As stated below the plays will be performed on May 9.
You may see a news story this evening regarding the Cherokee Trail High School Theater program. The issue raised is around the censorship of student written plays. Regarding this situation, I wanted you to have the following facts so that there is no confusion about what is occurring.
Our Theatre 3 students wrote five original plays to perform surrounding a number of issues of importance to teens including relationships, gender identity, and family issues. With every production that we put on the stage, there is an element of both directorial and administrative review and approval and a process. The plays were submitted after the due date for final approval for the original performance date.
Students were invited to meet with us to work through the process and give the necessary time to work through all of the "what ifs" in an attempt to be proactive as opposed to reactive and to plan for success. It appears that some students involved with the production walked away with a misunderstanding that the plays would never be able to be performed, which led to some frustration.
The only decision that was made was to postpone the date of the performance to allow our theater process to be completed. We have extended the process timeline to allow the plays to be performed at Cherokee Trail High School on May 9th.
Delaying the performance was not an attempt to censor the content of the plays, but rather an effort to provide adequate time to work through the process to ensure proper communication and planning with all members of our community - students, staff, parents and our community at large.
I hope this communication provides additional clarity.
Cherokee Trail High School"
Of note, ROCK OF AGES star Tyce Green shared the social media posts from the students on his Twitter account and originally shared the information with BroadwayWorld about the situation earlier this week, posting several updates, including, "This is unacceptable. Students ESPECIALLY teenagers should be learning love not hate. GAY IS OKAY. #NotOriginal," and "Admin at Cherokee Trail should be ASHAMED for telling students to hide who they are! WAKE UP. These REAL LGBTQ lives matter!
#NotOriginal," with his most recent post on the topic reading, "Hey performers discouraged about not getting cast... I wasn't cast in my senior high school musical. AT ALL. Things change. Don't give up :)".
Visit the official Cherokee Trail High School website here.