Sunday, March 25, 2007

Play About Iraq War Divides a Connecticut School - New York Times

Play About Iraq War Divides a Connecticut School - New York Times

Natalie Kropf, 18, Seth Koproski, 17, Devon Fontaine, 16, and James Presson, 16, are students at Wilton High School in Wilton, Connecticut. Timothy H. Canty is the principal at Wilton High. These are a few principal players in an off stage drama about an on stage drams, "Voices in Conflict."

Wilton students in an advanced acting class were taking on the challenge of creating an original play about the war in Iraq. Last week, principal Timothy H. Canty canceled a play to be put on by the school's advanced theater class citing questions of political balance and context. Efforts were made to make some concessions in the script by the students. Even the thought of doing the performance off campus at night was out. Students say Canty had indicated that the material was too inflammatory, and that only someone who had actually served in the war could understand the experience. “He told us the student body is unprepared to hear about the war from students, and we aren’t prepared to answer questions from the audience and it wasn’t our place to tell them what soldiers were thinking,” said Sarah Anderson, a 17-year-old senior.

Two things come to my mind about this story....

  • From a purely artistic point of view, principal Timothy Canty is way out of line. I'd have to give him my tops of 5 thumbs down for censorship of a piece of creative work by students that no doubt took significant commitment on their part. Perhaps (and sadly) their greatest learning experience from all this is the distaste for censorship in art when they could have been taking away more positive life experiences.
  • Outside my artistic mode, I have to again give Mr. Canty my maximum 5 thumbs down for like many, sticking there head in the sand (I had another place in mind) with respect (and I emphasise the "R" word here) to treating these students in such a demeaning manner. Students like Natalie Kropf are old enough to be serving in Iraq, and of course many other students are not far behind. Why hide in the safety of comfort and pretend this war in not in the room. It is a fucking elephant he wants to pretend it is not there. Gives these students a lot of credit for wanting to undertake this and ask the hard questions that too many adults in this country are afraid to ask. Maybe if people had asked more questions earlier and engaged in meaningful dialogue there would not be 3234 U.S. serviceman dead and we would not have spent $410 billion plus on a war the has no end in sight. A war that has left deep divisions and civil-war strife between the Iraqi people themselves. Give these you people a little respect. We ask them to fight our wars, don't talk down to them like we know what we are doing. If we did, things would be a lot different after four years.
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