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Lancaster, PA HS Cancels Hairspray due to racial stuff.

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ABitOnTheSide
Stand-by
joined:3/18/13
Stand-by | Joined: 3/18/13
One of my best friends is the director, or WAS the director, and is heartbroken. She did everything in her power to highlight the important messages in Hairspray. I'm very sad. it made the news this morning.

https://lancasteronline.com/news/local/mccaskey-cancels-spring-musical-hairspray-after-students-raise-concerns-about-insensitive-language/article_357c46ee-787c-11eb-9722-23e745162ba8.html?sp-tk=571840EC4B09CABBFDE472EA11A3384E8E4858011FAF454FD4C634DA2692ABC07107FB4016E0EF0A35BBC44E7D0C34439C679576CA856A7618C68A5377B29D4505F6AB9FC4606BAB9EF50BB0EC4DE8155ED39AA1C99EB28B5B38FBCAA6DCFEA8DFB1F9404ACBA9DD71F71163FE4566E94DD29A291DA8D1A766863F7554BC751651EC973FB5B32D80C5711E0003E6F15204E98D8D&fbclid=IwAR1UcR5GRKdliMylJSGTQkQ-bTPw54Zyiiu8O7jTcIoi_lk3xBuIyl5euoc
Fosse76
Broadway Legend
joined:3/21/05
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I'm struggling to recall any insensitive language in Hairspray.
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seaweedjstubbs
Broadway Star
joined:3/21/07
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The only line I can think of that hasn’t aged exceptionally well is Amber’s line during the dodgeball scene where she says the “r-word.”

“Tracy Turnblad’s a tramp and she’s r*****ed. That’s right, she’s fast and slow at the same time.”

That line was already modified for HAIRSPRAY LIVE on NBC.

Kids today also don’t understand that the word “negro” was actually what some Black people preferred to be called at the time. I did a production of SISTER ACT, and we had a student audience a few times, and when that word was said, you would have thought we’d said the actual “n-word.”
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copskid949
Understudy
joined:9/6/13
Understudy | Joined: 9/6/13
The article seems to be referring to the constant use of N*gro to describe Black people, as well as Amber’s line: “Tracy is a tramp AND she’s r*******!” Not to mention there are some smaller lines throughout that might be seen as degrading towards Black culture.

While all of those things are historically accurate and portrayed mainly for shock value to really emphasize how much people sucked back then, I can understand if some students (hopefully the ones whose voices *should* matter in this scenario) saw it as a concern. Sometimes dark comedy just doesn’t land.

However, Hairspray is also a gorgeous period high school show that empowers racial equality. The dark comedy isn’t for everyone, but it’s certainly more palatable than how Heathers portrays teenage suicide, for example. I’m a bit disappointed that the production was shut down, but honestly to form a better opinion I’d probably have to see the specific complaints being made.
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BrodyFosse123
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BCfitasafiddle
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Since when were high school musicals being done in a global pandemic? Did I miss something?

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Call_me_jorge
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joined:1/9/15
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You’d be shocked. A lot of high schools theatre programs are going about business as usual. Schools are getting permission to livestream their shows as well! The Jimmy’s are still on this year!
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dramamama611
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joined:12/4/07
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Rules vary from state to state. In MA, schools cannot have ANY singing indoors. As for plays, we can't have an audience...and have to both wear masks and stay 6 ft apart....if you have outdoor capabilities that takes care of part of it. (So even we want to stream, they'd have to be masked.)

If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
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NOWaWarning
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joined:2/1/16
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Some of the language and jokes in the show have definitely not aged all that well, even though the show isn’t very old. The public discourse on race is in a very different place than it was in the 2000s. And I’m not even referring to the language that is historically accurate to the 1960s like “negro.” I can certainly imagine, for example, a young Black boy being uncomfortable singing, “Living in the ghetto, Black is everywhere you go!” And I can also imagine an audience cringing at the line, too. Then there’s the fact that Hairspray exemplifies the white savior trope. I don’t think we can never produce this show again, but maybe we should give it a break. It doesn’t meet the moment. And as the superintendent said in the article, kids are too raw right now. I think we all are.
BCfitasafiddle
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Call_me_jorge said: "You’d be shocked. A lot of high schools theatre programs are going about business as usual. Schools are getting permission to livestream their shows as well! The Jimmy’s are still on this year!"

Lot of feelings about this. Happy kids are getting the chance to perform and hone their skills. I hope it's all going seamlessly. 

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LizzieCurry
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"This thread reads like a series of White House memos." — Mister Matt
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NOWaWarning
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Thanks for sharing that, Lizzie! I think Heath makes and expands on a lot of great points