Maiden High School recently canceled an upcoming production of Almost, Maine. School administrators say it’s because the play contains “sexually-explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendos that are not aligned with [the school’s] mission and educational objectives.” Students affiliated with the production say it’s because of a scene in the play called “They Fell” in which two young men—literally—fall in love with each other.
Almost, Maine is the most produced play in high schools in our country, and has been for years. Over 2,000 successful productions have proven it to be a timely and popular play.
The play had already been approved by both the principal and the superintendent when the principal had a meeting with a local church. After the meeting, he canceled the play, telling the students, "The town just isn't ready for this play." Maiden is a small town, tucked away in a county that has never elected a minority and hasn't elected a Democrat for over 30 years. It's possible that the principal is correct, but that certainly shouldn't stop the students from performing it.
The local arts community has swiftly come to the aid of the students, and we're hoping to reach a nationwide audience.
We are asking for $1,000, but we can do the play with as little as $400, and we can also put together a more elaborate production with more money.
The author of the play, John Cariani has become involved with this case, and is working with us to ensure that the show goes on. He released a statement that clearly sums up what we want to share,
"They should rest assured that the scene in question, “They Fell,” contains no swearing and no physical contact. It’s a sweet, chaste, funny scene that explores the precise moment when a couple of young people—both of whom happen to be guys—fall in love. “They Fell” asks audiences to consider the wonder of falling in love—which is not something anyone chooses to do. It just happens. And when a young person happens to fall in love with a person of the same sex, and they’re from a place like Presque Isle, Maine (my hometown) or Maiden, North Carolina, joy doesn’t typically follow. Fear and self-loathing—the roots of homophobia—follow.
If Maiden High School administrators take issue with “They Fell” because it’s about two young men who are simply stating their feelings for one another, they are calling into question the validity of same-sex love by making it seem wrong and different and other. They are allowing a dangerous cycle of fear and self-hatred among LGBTQ youth to continue, and, consequently, they are tacitly promoting homophobia. This is simply not necessary. Nor is it helpful. We don’t need any more Tyler Clementis or Jamey Rodemeyers and Jamey Hubleys. We need kids to know that it’ll “get better.” Falling in love is tough enough when you’re young. Let’s remove the stigma of falling in love with someone of the same sex.
Most important, we should all remember that the kids who spearheaded the production of Almost, Maine are the ones who will lose here. As I understand it, the Maiden High School production of the play was to be a student-run endeavor. By canceling the play, it seems to me that school officials are pleasing parents and pillars of the community rather that serving the students. I think there’s a better solution than to stop the production. I hope that Maiden High School will find a way to contact me and/or Dramatists Play Service to see what we can do to allow the show to go on for the good of all involved."
Even though we've met our goal, you supporters are making a very strong statement about what we value and what we expect from our educators. The larger that final number, the stronger that statement will be.
Obviously, we will have a surplus of money, so we've been talking about what we can do with it.
We intend to donate half of the excess money to Outright Youth of Catawba Valley. From their page: "OUTright Youth is the ONLY PLACE in the Catawba Valley that provides a unique, youth-centered, safe environment for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Questioning) youth ages 12-20, and their allies, to come together, receive unconditional support, and make friends who understand who they are as they struggle with sexual orientation, gender identity and other issues.
OUTright Youth strongly believes that it is essential to create a safe space for young people who are, who believe that they might be, or who have friends or family members who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. We offer educational programs, social activities, peer support groups and community outreach and FUN!"
We will donate the other half of the excess to various arts organizations in our immediate area. These organizations have supported our love of the arts and enriched the lives of all students and adults involved in this production, and the students want to give back to this community.
Also, we have a fun new perk for our first $500 donor!
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