Listening to: La Vie Boheme

On December 12, the Dallas Morning News reported that Rowlett High School had canceled a production of the musical Rent after protest from some parents in the community. According to the article, the school’s theatre director made the decision in the interest of the students involved:

“In light of everything that has happened, I need to think of my students first and foremost. They are dealing with pressures that they don’t need at their age,” theater director Brandon Tijerina wrote in a statement. “The best thing for my students is for me to cancel the show, not because of all of the controversy, but because I honestly truly care for my students.”

Unfortunately it appears that in creating a “controversy”, those who sought to censor the play have prevailed.

The article concludes by quoting Rowlett High School principal Marlene Hammerle, who had initially supported the production:

“…the division over this musical needs to stop now,” Dr. Hammerle wrote in a letter to the district’s superintendent and school board late Tuesday. “I am so proud of our students and parents and I am especially proud of how they have handled the controversy. Hopefully, the discussion over ‘RENT’ will end.”

But being proud of how students and parents “handled the controversy” does not erase that fact that the play has been canceled, and Rowlett HS students have been robbed of the opportunity to engage with a relevant and timely piece of theatre.

Those who objected to the play’s content could easily have not attended performances, even protested in front of the theatre. Instead, they have imposed their values on an entire school community. And that’s called censorship.