Saturday, June 9, 2007

VOICES IN CONFLICT Challenges Censorship of Ideas

Credit goes to VOICES IN CONFLICT, an original drama created by students at Wilton High School in Connecticut. The powerful and moving drama is drawn from interviews, letters and essays written by Iraqi civilians and American soldiers serving in Iraq. The students planned to perform the show at their school, but those plans were cut short. According to Bonnie Dickinson, the Drama Advisor for the students, the Principal deemed the play too controversial, and cancelled the performances. Then as media attention grew, the superintendent on behalf of the school district backed the principal's decision, calling it "Sensational and inappropriate."

Music Theatre International has joined with everyone from our soldiers in Iraq to students across the country, a creative coalition (including playwrights Edward Albee, Christopher Durang, John Weidman, Marsha Norman, Doug Wright, John Guare and John Patrick Shanley representing the Dramatists Guild of America,) the National Coalition Against Censorship and the national media to make sure VOICES IN CONFLICT would not disappear. We created our first-ever "Courage in Theatre Award," which will be presented to the Wilton students as part of a very special performance at the Public Theatre in New York on June 15.

According to Freddie Gershon, Chairman of Music Theatre International, Wilton's advanced-theater students' "non-performance of their original theater piece is unique in our experience of licensing over 500,000 high school performances in the last two decades and deserving of special recognition." In a letter to the Wilton High School principal, Gershon goes on to explain, "Collaboration by 15 students acting as a microcosm of society working together, exchanging views, bending, honing, editing and ultimately sharing a vision requires perseverance, tenacity, resilience, compromise and passion, particularly when their shared vision may not be shared by a large segment of the full community. Although we have witnessed students in College and University theatre groups go down this road, we have never before been made aware of it at the high school level."

MTI applauded the drama students of Wilton High School and their advisor, Bonnie Dickinson and proudly awarded them the "Courage In Theatre" Award.

Click here to read the story published in The New York Times on March 24, 2007.

Click here to read a follow-up NYT article from June 7, 2007

Courageous high school students and their sponsor fight censorship and address social relevance through drama. Click here to read more about this inspirational story and follow the play all the way to Broadway! Cheers to freedom of thought.