(UPDATE: Good news! The students organized and managed to stage their performance at a local playhouse, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign.)
NCAC and other organizations committed to artistic and intellectual freedom sent the below letter to Maiden High School in response to the cancellation of the scheduled January production of John Cariani’s Almost, Maine due to concerns about the play’s content.
Although parental permission slips were obtained and the Main Street Players were given permission to perform the play, complaints from parents and area churches regarding the same-sex vignette, “They Fell”, resulted in the last-minute cancellation of the production. The administration claims that the play’s “‘sexually-explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendos’ are at odds with the school’s mission and educational objectives.”
The co-signatories urge the school board to allow the students to perform Almost, Maine as “There can be no question about the play’s educational and artistic merit.” The New York Times describes the play as “beautifully structured” and the letter makes note that Almost, Maine is due to be performed in various other North Carolina school districts this year. Furthermore, the decision to cancel the play due to “sexually-explicit overtones” will likely lead to other censorship issues regarding such notable – and sexual-themed – plays as Romeo & Juliet and Oedipus Rex. The below organizations remind the school board and community members that “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”
Thankfully, the Main Street Players have taken matters into their own hands. They’ve vowed to perform the play at a different venue in the state. Over the past few days, they’ve far surpassed their $1,000 goal on Kickstarter, a campaign to raise money to perform the play elsewhere. They’ve also set up a website, cleverly named “Almost Maiden”, to broadcast their efforts.