Who is Censoring the Radnor High School Senior Musical and why?

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chips's picture
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A sudden last minute decision was made to cancel this year's Radnor High School Senior Musical. Whether it was Superintendent Dr. Linda Grobman or Radnor School Directors' decision is not clear.

It has been suggested that the reason the musical was cancelled was because it shocked certain authorities sensibilities. Apparently there is a cross-dressing character and a dance scene where the kids grab their crotches.

Bonnie L. Cook picked up the story for the Inquirer

Posted on Sat, Jun. 6, 2009

'Inappropriate' senior musical gets hook at Radnor High

By Bonnie L. Cook

Inquirer Staff Writer

Radnor Township School District officials canceled the traditional senior-class musical this week after one performance because it included "inappropriate humor, dancing, and stereotypes targeting more than one group," the district spokesperson said yesterday.

The show, intended as a spoof, was staged Wednesday night without a preview, said Lisa Williamson, the district's communications director. It was to have been offered Thursday, yesterday and today, but those shows were called off, Williamson said.

None of the inappropriate material was scripted, she said.

The scripts for the senior musicals as opposed to the traditional plays/musicals that schools put on are written by students as a project in senior English class and are usually satires, spoofs, or other comedy, Williamson said.

This year's musical incorporated elements from two movies, The Wedding Planner and Sweet Home Alabama, and an element of football, Williamson said. About 30 students in the school of more than 1,300 students were involved in the production.

A teacher had been advising the students, Williamson said, and "the script had been read and reviewed." That teacher, however, stopped serving as the adviser, for reasons unrelated to the content of the musical, and another member of the staff took over.

Williamson said she did not know what review was conducted by the new adviser, whom she would not name. During the performance, she said, the students ad-libbed offensive references and gestures.

There was a "lack of enthusiasm about the script, so kids took it upon themselves to jazz it up," she said.

"It's like turning on a sitcom," she added. "How many people can we offend at one time?"

Two mothers of students who participated in the musical said their children would have no comment.

About 10 parents complained about the content, and a few people we're not sure if all were parents "walked out" during the performance, Williamson said.

The school principal, Mark Schellenger, canceled the production, she said, and counseled the students on the material, which she would not characterize further.

Linda E. Grobman, schools superintendent, declined comment on the musical other than to say: "A couple of students who made some poor choices - that's not what Radnor is about."

Williamson said no further action involving the students would be taken.

Bonnie L. Cook followed up on the story for the Inquirer today.

Posted on Wed, Jun. 10, 2009

Radnor High parent blames principal for canceled musical

By Bonnie L. Cook

Inquirer Staff Writer

The parent of a Radnor High School senior whose class musical was canceled last week after one performance said the principal was to blame for not flagging raunchy humor in the show.

"This was not high-brow humor, to say the least; it was sophomoric and politically incorrect, but very much in keeping with past shows," Martin Bond, father of senior Anne Bond, wrote in an e-mail yesterday. "And the script was approved by the principal."

School district officials said in an Inquirer article published Saturday that all the offensive material on opening night was unscripted and ad-libbed by students. The senior musical, typically a spoof, is an annual tradition at the school.

This year's musical, written and performed by the seniors, was titled The Wedding Game. Bond said the script clearly called for "a tipsy Irish priest," "a guy in drag," and "a hillbilly-type woman with two children on rope leashes." Those were three of five bits deemed inappropriate by school officials that resulted in the show's cancellation.

The other two bits were "crotch-grabbing" during Michael Jackson-style dancing, and a band with a shirtless boy "who kept time by slapping his ample belly," Bond said.

All five were part of "four full run-throughs" of the show before opening night, Bond said. No one from the administration attended, so the material was not cut before the show went public, Bond said.

Principal Mark Schellenger did not respond to two calls seeking comment.

Bond said he was told by his daughter that the seniors met with Schellenger and Superintendent Linda E. Grobman yesterday at the school to receive an apology for the administration's handling of the matter.

"My daughter said that Schellenger did not admit fault, but said only that he was sorry for what happened. Grobman did not admit fault, either," Bond said.

Senior Ansley Sawyer, who attended the meeting, said Schellenger explained that he felt that, based on the information given him, the senior musical was not ready to be shown to the public.

"He apologized for any hardship that he may have caused for the students, and he stressed that the decision was his to make," Sawyer said. "He then said that he hoped that we would not let this one situation overshadow all of the good times over the past four years."

Sawyer said Grobman "then apologized to us, saying that she understood why we had all been offended by the recent article in The Inquirer, and that she too was sorry for any hard feelings."

Asked for comment on the apology, district communications director Lisa Williamson said, "There was a meeting today with the principal and the superintendent, prior to the graduation rehearsal. The students are eager to prepare for their graduation ceremonies." She would not elaborate.

Grobman and eight school board members did not return calls for comment.

Williamson had said Friday that the "references and gestures" were "ad-libbed" by students and came as a surprise to the administration. Bond denied that.

"Most of the supposedly inappropriate material was scripted, and all was clear to see in the rehearsals. None of the offending references and gestures were ad-libbed," Bond said.

"In fact, the show was no more inappropriate than in past years, and the show was closely supervised by a Radnor teacher."

That adviser, Nancy Holshue, a part-time staff member who served as director, did not respond to a call Friday to her cell phone. Yesterday, the cell phone was "temporarily disconnected."

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carla's picture
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Oh OK when you have someone hunting swinger magazines in township trashcans and making off color sexist remarks, they worry about a little cross dressing? What is next, a book burning?

_____________________________________________________________
L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers/Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains.–Jean Jacques Rosseau. The Social Contract, 1762

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dmuth's picture
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If someone can provide me with a copy of the script (any Radnor High School students or teachers who want to help me out here?), I will post it here.

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politeia's picture
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If they have Catcher in the Rye in the high school library (as they should), then what little has been posted about why this musical was cancelled seems lacking.

I see no problem with a cross-dressing character for high school students and the crotch grabbing thing seems more tasteless than truly offensive or obscene and could easily be removed from the musical act.

Sounds like there is more to this. I hope there is because this is not much - and is certainly not something that can't be worked around unless those students in the musical refused to change the scenes in question, and if so, I'd be curious to know exactly what was deemed so offensive.

EDIT: Now that I have read the just added Inky article, and while I still don't know what these kids did because nobody will speak about it, I don't have too much of a problem with this.

It seems the kids ad-libbed in an offensive manner and this was not part of the script. A school musical production or play should be thought of as a professional type endeavor by high school students like the school paper. These things should be taken seriously. Even if this musical is supposed to be a spoof or satire, high school kids are old enough to understand the difference between humor/satire and offensive acts.

It seems parents were offended by this, and in my mind schools should be more answerable to parents than the government, so I don't have a problem with that either - assuming what the kids did is truly offensive.

The one issue with Radnor School District I would have is that it seems this musical was not very well monitored by staff. Thus, due to apparent lack of faculty oversight that might have prevented this, the whole production has to be cancelled.

I put the blame not only on the students but also on the faculty.

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves

~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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dmuth's picture
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It seems the kids ad-libbed in an offensive manner and this was not part of the script. A school musical production or play should be thought of as a professional type endeavor by high school students like the school paper. These things should be taken seriously.

Whoops!

Saying one thing (the script) and doing another (ad-libbing) does tend to cause problems. As does not checking in and seeing what the kids are doing.

Hopefully this will be a learning experience for all parties involved.

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ChickenSandwich's picture
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radnor is so damn repressed.

maybe the kids should act out the sallacious allegations put forth by dave bashore in his written defense at the termination meeting. after all, radnor students were free to show up at the termination hearing and read what bashore circulated - right?

now, all we need is a title. any suggestions?

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politeia's picture
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When you compare what the kids did to what the township and the commssioners have allowed to happen with township employees, there certainly is not a loss for irony.

At the very least, the township does not provide a very good role model for the children of Radnor.

How about "Do As I Say, Not As I do-gate"

=================

Brotherhood of Thieves

~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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Woozaleedoodle's picture
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I like that title, Politeia!

And the theme music should be a slightly revamped version of the Duke Ellington classic - 'It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That (Alleged) Swing'.

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carla's picture
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Ok, so I have been nosing around because I couldn't understand if a play was a problem why it got this far. I was told 2 things: (1) The prinicpal of Radnor HS approved the script - so does the prinicpal need to go to remedial reading class? The prinicpal should be sanctioned or booted over this - it was THEIR job to review this before the students invested time in it, right? And then there is the dress rehearsal thing? Is it true that no school administration/pricipal whomever attended the dress rehearsals?

What's the principal been doing? Rooting through trash cans with Osborne instead of doing his job?

Posted on Wed, Jun. 10, 2009
Radnor High parent blames principal for canceled musical
By Bonnie L. Cook
Inquirer Staff Writer

_____________________________________________________________
L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers/Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains.–Jean Jacques Rosseau. The Social Contract, 1762

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chips's picture
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Yup, there is a lot to report. I have the script and want go through it and pull together some parent comments before I post more...stay tuned.

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