Sunday, March 15, 2009

Note to self: challenges don't just occur in libraries...

I was reading some news online today when a headline caught my eye, "Show will go on — on Steve Martin’s dime: Author-comedian to fund off-campus production of banned play." In short, the article details how a play written by Steve Martine called “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” was banned at a high school in La Grande, Oregon due to objections from parents for adult content. After receiving a petition signed by 137 people, the school baord stopped rehearsals for the play. In the end, the play will go on because a Student Democrats group raised money to present the play at a local university instead. In addition, Martin has donated money to ensure that the play would go on...I thought it was nice to read that any fund left over would go towards acting scholarships.

There is no doubt that this situation is very similar to the challenges that sometimes occur in libraries. There is also no doubt that the school board's decision to cancel the play amounted to censorship. It is a relief to know that the play will still reach an audience in La Grande (and that student activism helped achieve this goal) but the banning at the high school is disheartening. I wonder how many high school kids who would have attended the play when it was on their campus will be able to attend the play at the new venue... then again, maybe the controversy will encourage more students and members of the community to view the play, thereby negating the censorial efforts of the petitioning parents...

40 comments:

  1. Let's hope it has that impact that censorship attempts often do, to make the subject more popular and interesting rather than less. If you really want to censor something, ignore it completely. FAR more effective.

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  2. The arts can be a tricky place for intellectual freedom. I remember a few years ago when a theater student at the University of Utah refused to use swear words in a play she was performing in. The whole thing landed in the courts and reminds me of how often high schools or maybe community theaters often edit source material to suit perhaps their audience. I am not strongly for or against, but remain interested in the issues.

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