Do people think that it is appropriate to do a production of To Kill a Mockingbird as a high school play? Since it includes the use of the N-word, some... Who's Online | Find Members | Private Messages
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To Kill a Mockingbird as a High School play

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1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:14:04 PM EST (GMT-5)
Do people think that it is appropriate to do a production of To Kill a Mockingbird as a high school play? Since it includes the use of the N-word, some parents are objecting to the choice of this play at our high school.

I want to see what YT thinks of the issue. Should the word not be used if the play is done, or should the play not be done, or should the play be done without any changes?

1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:20:04 PM EST (GMT-5)
Sure why not.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:25:47 PM EST (GMT-5)
I would say that context is everything when it comes to performing works like that (ones that contain objectionable material). It has to be presented to the students in the right way, with lots of discussion about historical norms and meanings, and how they differ from today's (as well as a discussion of how some things really haven't changed that much; like you don't hear that many people saying the n-word today, but that certainly doesn't mean racism is fixed). I would be hesitant to make a blanket statement on whether it should be performed by high school students, because every theater department is different, and a lot depends on the teacher/director.

If it's going to be performed though, I'm pretty staunchly against altering or censoring the work. If it's that inappropriate, I'd say the answer is to choose a different play.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:30:05 PM EST (GMT-5)
Don’t these parents object to students reading the book?

I don’t think putting on a play version of To Kill a Mockingbird is inappropriate for high school age children. Nor do I have a problem if the play includes the n word. In fact, I actually think removing the word is objectionable because sanitizing racist language undermines the book’s message.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:30:59 PM EST (GMT-5)
*Do these parents...
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:31:35 PM EST (GMT-5)
(This was well before I was in high school) my school did a play one year that had a heavily-implied rape scene. Boy pushes girl down onto bed (clearly not consensually), she fights back before the lights go down. Lights up on the next scene, they're both in bed in their underwear. Parents sort of lost it over that (not least because they had issues with a 16-year-old girl onstage in a bra and panties...like that's just basically a bikini? think that part was just general prudishness). The scene was changed and the director was pissed enough about it that it happened in the '80s and she was still talking about it when I was doing theater in the mid-late '90s.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:32:31 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:30:05 PM Courtbebe wrote:
I actually think removing the word is objectionable because sanitizing racist language undermines the book’s message.

Hard agree here.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:32:50 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:30:05 PM Courtbebe wrote:
Don’t these parents object to students reading the book?


This was my initial reaction. The book is read/taught as part of the Freshman English curriculum at the HS.

1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:34:20 PM EST (GMT-5)
I have not heard of any objections to the book being part of the curriculum.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:36:21 PM EST (GMT-5)
Idk, I can sort of see how there's a difference between studying the book in class, and actually performing it. You're taking a much more active role when you're actually playing the part, and it's not even the same as reading passages aloud in class.
(To be clear, I don't agree with the people just flat-out objecting to the play, but I can see why they don't view those as equivalent.)
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:40:12 PM EST (GMT-5)
That's a fair point, but it can also be argued that if one doesn't want to be exposed to the objectionable word, they don't have to go see the play. They don't really have that choice when it comes to reading the book for English class.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:41:19 PM EST (GMT-5)
Honestly, if they can’t take the heat, they shouldn’t. But if they can, they should do the play no matter what.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:41:20 PM EST (GMT-5)
...but also, the English class setting does provide a forum for discussion about historical norms, context, etc.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:42:22 PM EST (GMT-5)
I remember when we read it in high school and there were concerns by parents about the racial slurs and offensive wording. I think a play would probably be more concerning. I don't know if they took out all the "objectionable" words if it would help. If they do the play it should be as written.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:43:38 PM EST (GMT-5)
Yes, that's true. Though most English teachers will give an alternate reading if parents really, really, really get pissy about stuff like that (most will roll their eyes behind that parent's back lol).

I'm going to go out on a limb and say a lot of parents probably just straight-up don't pay attention to their kids' reading lists, though. A high school near here did The Road (Cormac McCarthy) in Freshman English when a friend of mine's daughter was in it. She decided to read along with all their books that year because she thought it would be a fun bonding thing for them. There was a fair bit of shock and "do other parents know they're reading this??" with that one.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:45:05 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:41:20 PM CowDung wrote:
...but also, the English class setting does provide a forum for discussion about historical norms, context, etc.

Right. And the director (if it's a good director) will do this as well...but they can only do that for the students who are IN the play. There's no way to do it for anyone who's just SEEING the play. So it's a risky thing to do, and could be interpreted badly, especially by other students.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:48:59 PM EST (GMT-5)
This reminds of a debate/concern by parents when students at a high school wanted to include in a class rap music with a lot of swearing and slurs as poetry. It wasn't allowed.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:49:25 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:41:19 PM Abzurd wrote:
Honestly, if they can’t take the heat, they shouldn’t. But if they can, they should do the play no matter what.

Sort of side note, but did you see that the Aaron Sorkin one is starting previews next month? Starring Jeff Daniels and directed by Bartlett Sher (!)
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:53:08 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:48:59 PM skirtgirl2 wrote:
This reminds of a debate/concern by parents when students at a high school wanted to include in a class rap music with a lot of swearing and slurs as poetry. It wasn't allowed.


My 11th grade English teacher (who was old enough to have also taught my mom) was the one who brought in rap during our poetry unit, lol. Granted, it was an AP class, so self-selected for more serious students and not just a bunch of cut-ups who would snicker over it. But as an adult I'm thinking she probably could have gotten in a good bit of trouble for doing that.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 1:00:52 PM EST (GMT-5)
You were lucky and it probably expanded your views. I went to a Catholic School and no way such horrible satanist rap would be allowed.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 1:05:00 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:41:20 PM CowDung wrote:
...but also, the English class setting does provide a forum for discussion about historical norms, context, etc.
On Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:45:05 PM birdsong4j wrote:
Right. And the director (if it's a good director) will do this as well...but they can only do that for the students who are IN the play. There's no way to do it for anyone who's just SEEING the play. So it's a risky thing to do, and could be interpreted badly, especially by other students.


This director has done controversial plays in the past where they have done pre and post performance discussions to talk about the controversial topics of the play.

1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 1:07:05 PM EST (GMT-5)
On Thursday 10/11/18 - 12:41:19 PM Abzurd wrote:
Honestly, if they can’t take the heat, they shouldn’t. But if they can, they should do the play no matter what.


The parent has been told that the play will be going on as scheduled (it opens this weekend).

1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 1:09:22 PM EST (GMT-5)
Well that's really awesome (the pre- and post-performance discussions). They should definitely do TKAM.

(This parent decided to bitch the week before opening?? Man, come on. At this point, the kids and everyone have worked really hard and invested lots of time and energy. I thought this was about a future play choice, not a current one. That parent is sort of a jerk, imo.)
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 1:24:56 PM EST (GMT-5)
They should do Brigadoon

Might as well torture everybody.
1 month ago - Thursday 10/11/18 - 1:28:31 PM EST (GMT-5)
OK, that's a creepy coincidence. I ran across a song from Brigadoon in a fakebook just yesterday, after not having thought of that show in quite a few years.

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