(UPDATE: The students organized and managed to stage their performance at a local playhouse, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign.)
A mere week after the legalization of gay marriage in North Carolina, a school in Maiden has decided to cancel a scheduled January production of Almost, Maine over, yes, the presence of a same-sex couple in the play’s storyline.
In a case that bears eery similarities to the cancellation of Spamalot in Pennsylvania last month, Maiden High School has pulled the plug on the production of John Cariani’s play, the most widely-performed play in high schools across the country. At the moment, it’s unclear where the complaints originated, though local ABC affiliate WSOC-TV reports that complainants included parents and churches who objected to the same-sex couple in one the play’s nine vignettes.
The offending vignette features two men who, over the course of a conversation, realize that they’re in love with each other. As the two men “fall” for one another, they also fall, physically, to the ground.
It’s this very scene that Principal Rob Bliss felt wasn’t appropriate for his students. In a statement released to the press, Bliss contends that the play had never been approved to be performed in January at all. Instead, he states, “careful review and consideration was given to the contents of this play” before he ultimately decided that the “sexually-explicit overtones” and “multiple sexual innuendos” were at odds with the school’s mission and educational objectives.
Though Bliss went further to state that he’d never given the drama club official approval to perform the play, students suggest otherwise. They’re claimingthat they received official confirmation from Bliss and Catawba County Schools Superintendent Dan Brigman to perform the play earlier this year. Allegedly, they even put down a $300 deposit to secure the rights to the play.
The decision to cancel the play has ignited furor in many quarters, most especially within the student body — so much that some students in the school have mobilized to create a petition to get the play reinstated. The petition, which went live two days ago, has now accumulated nearly 1,300 signatures. Some alumni who were active in the school’s extracurricular drama program have voiced their displeasure with the decision to the press and on reddit.
As the student-led petition gains more groundswell, be sure keep an eye out for NCAC’s upcoming letter to the principal and Catawba County Schools Board of Education urging them to reinstate the play. The Board’s next meeting is Monday, October 27.