Wednesday, November 09, 2011

MS Production of 13 Results in Parent Letter from Principal

The Nazareth Area Middle School students today had an opportunity to see the MS drama club production 13. Shortly after students were dismissed from school an email was sent out by principal Kern (read it here).

In part it read, "During the rehearsal today, however, it was discovered that some of the scenes may have been been inappropriate for some students. While there was no obscene language, there were references to sexual situations and innuendoes that should not be promoted at the middle school level."

My daughter told us the words "ass", "hell", "penis", "slut", and "skank" were all either spoken, shouted or sung.  She found it hilarious, in part because of the incredulity of what she was seeing and hearing in school by students in front of teachers, and also to see the reactions of the teachers, not to mention all of the jokes being told afterward.  She was at least smart enough not to tell my wife about it infront of her younger sister.

We also learned that a prominent theme throughout was, "The tongue", which appeared to be what the guys wanted to get from the girls, and rounding bases and trying to get to third was included in a song. She also said that there were kissing scenes in the script that weren't rehearsed or performed.

The song Hey Kendra goes like this:

Eddie & Malcolm: Hey Kendra
Brett: Hey Kendra
Eddie & Malcolm: I’ve been thinking
Brett: I’ve been thinking
Eddie, & Malcolm: I’ve got to, got to, got to, got to get with you
Brett: So true
Eddie & Malcolm: I wanna get up all in your business girl And make you feel real fine
Brett: Uh, real fine. Not fake fine.
Eddie & Malcolm: Hey Kendra
Brett: Hey Kendra
Eddie & Malcolm: Come closer
Brett: Much closer
Eddie & Malcolm: I got myself a brand new rocking horse Why don’t you climb up here
Eddie: And rock it, rock it all night long
Brett: Okay, okay stop! Yeah…not gonna work.
Eddie: Yeah, so gonna work! It’s double edge--
Eddie & Malcolm: Smooth.
Brett: Guys, Kendra’s a good girl. I can’t just hit on her like whack-a-mole. 
I do that, I will never get the tongue. Incoming! Kendra, 3 o’clock!

Today's show ended (they only perform a portion) with the cast taking stage to say things in unison including, "At 13 I got drunk" and "At 13 I signed a virginity contract".

The production did feature 13 year-olds and the lead was 12 going on 13 and about to become a "man", but it billed itself as, "A grown-up story about growing up!"

The letter goes on to say, "I apologize that while the show is advertised on the posters as PG (parental guidance suggested), you were not given the opportunity to provide the parental guidance for your child. This situation should never have occurred, and steps are currently being put in place to ensure that it does not occur in the future."

1. Why was a MS theatre troupe conducting a PG production for grown-ups about growing up?
2. Why was administration unaware of the content prior to it being presented to students?
3. What consequence is this going to have to the kids in the show?

Not only was there incredibly poor judgement by the teacher who selected this production, I'm stunned that there was no administrative oversight regarding the content being presented to students, and most amazing is that after the first presentation it continued until all the students in the building saw it (there were multiple productions today).

Regarding consequences, I feel bad for the kids in the production, because they worked hard for months on a production that younger siblings shouldn't be watching and parents and grandparents would probably be embarrassed to see them perform in (oh was that your daughter they called a slut, she really played the role).

Further, the kids were kidding about the lines and songs and Gene Simmon's styled tongue flicking was all the rage, which while not intentionally negative probably made the ones in the production feel embarrassed.

The public production is this weekend and "plans to address the situation are currently in place to make the production more age appropriate."

What do you think?

Posted via email from Ross Nunamaker


Heidi Giacoletti said...

This saddens me in more ways than one! The culture in which we live is overly saturated with all things sexual. The "childhood" of our children is no longer protected nor valued. There is absolutely no reason, whatsoever, this play should have been chosen for these kids to perform or view!
There are more questions that should be posed here:
1) How is it these students rehearsed this play for weeks without any red flags going up? I know from experience at the high school, there are always parents taking part in costuming, sets, etc. There must have been someone who approached the teacher or other staff members regarding this content.
2) Why are plays like this even considered? Parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends should be able to come to a play to enjoy students' work. Students should be able to enjoy performing and gain the experience of the stage, without being concerned about presenting offensive material.
It is frustrating to me when material is chosen simply to be edgy or provocative...out of the box. Why not choose classics that tell a compelling story or have a redemptive message. Heck, why not choose a play simply because it is good, clean fun? These are our kids and they deserve to have a childhood free of this kind of controversy. Why are we trying to grow them up so quickly? Even as young adults, our teens appreciate guidance by trustworthy grown-ups.
Here's to helping our children grow up to be people of character! Here's also, to hoping the people who are granted the privilege of influencing them do so in a positive manner!

jmo said...

very well said heidi and i completely agree

saw the talented cast perform a great song from the play at last months school board meeting, feel badly for them through all this

Clem said...

This is why we must pay more, don't you know. Best and brightest. . .

If people really examined the type of faculty and administrators brought in by the soon to be retired superintendent, this type of thing would be no surprise at all.

NewsOverCoffee said...

What song did they perform at the board meeting?

You can see a list from the musical production here

NewsOverCoffee said...

Heidi: I wondered about this in so many ways as you did. My daughter wasn't in it, but she had friends in it and we know people whose kids and relatives were.

Unlike HS show, which has general community members attending, the MS is probably mostly comprised of parents, siblings, and extended family and this content is inappropriate for most of those.

Amongst the many downsides, through my daughter, I'm hearing that many kids in the show don't want to do it again because of the response/uncomfortableness of the content.

Hope to see some positive changes after this.

Heidi Giacoletti said...

This is a surprise to me, Clem. My children attended every school in this district, besides Bushkill. Overall, I have been exceedingly pleased with the teachers, counselors, and administrators with whom we have had contact. Of course, as in any place of business, there have been a few people who have had a negative impact on our family which is a terrible shame since this " business" effects our children and our community.
I must reiterate the fact that Nazareth has far more dedicated, hard-working, and caring teachers and administrators than they have " bad apples", and for that I am grateful.
It would be prudent in the future, however, to make sure those "bad apples" don't spoil the whole barrel!

Heidi Giacoletti said...

NOC...I am truly saddened for the students who put in countless hours of hard work to put on this show. Now there is this negativity looming over the material. The joy and excitement that come from a "job well done", have been tarnished for them...such a shame.

Rebecca PB said...

When the cast performed at the board meeting last Monday the director gave them alternate lyrics that were more appropriate.
Extremely poor judgement and an extremely poor example for those kids. There are a multitude of shows out there with amazing content that are more than appropriate for that age. Pushing limits in the name of artistic expression is one thing, but making children victims of it is another.

NewsOverCoffee said...

Unfortunately, immediate reaction from the kids in it based on hearsay is that many don't want to be involved in another production again, which is a real shame.

If they changed the lyrics for the board, then it is obvious that the director of the production knew this was inappropriate material. Again where was supervision allowing this material to be performed and after the first show, why allow to more to be conducted?

And agree pushing limits with artistic expression should be an artist's choice, but not put on 12 and 13 year old children.

I know the ones we know are good kids and I'm sure the others are as well. Hope this mistake doesn't get made again.

hkr1145 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NewsOverCoffee said...

To the person who deleted their comment, I didn't say the kids wanted to end the production and not perform it, only that they indicated they weren't interested in being involved in future productions - which is a shame, if that happens. Not all, just a few who made comments to my daughter.

Also, I agree that the kids were not happy with having lines changed two days before a performance. It is hard enough to remember them in the first place, and harder to change them after rehearsing for months.

And finally, I don't need to reserve judgement until I've seen it, the content is not age appropriate for the school to be producing or presenting.

If you or I as individuals want to take our child to a production of 13, no problem. If your child or mine wants to participate in a production of 13, our call as parents to determine if it is appropriate, hence the PG label.

Jersey Girl said...

When I saw the MS was doing 13 I was wondering if their would be a backlash. I am glad their is because it shows people in Nazareth still have some standards. I feel badly for the kids. The director should have known better. Some of the songs are good, but should be done in more of a Cabaret atmosphere with other Broadway songs, not with the whole show.

jmo said...

the song performed for the school board was "a little more homework"

i looked through the song and yes there were definitely changes for the board presentation which is upsetting, it seems duplicitious and subterfuge is something i dont think we need to have our children subscribe to in the name of the "arts"
i definitely would have remembered hearing the following lines but honestly do not recall them;

"I turned 13 and I signed a virginity pledge.

Day turns, today turns, today turns, today turns, today turns, today

I was diagnosed with an eating disorder

Day turns today turns today

I got busted for driving my dad’s pick-up

Day turns today turns today

I got drunk!

while I agree kern is doing a great clean up job i sincerely question the integrity of a drama director who would change the words for the school board but yet let the show be performed by 12 yrs old as is...