"> Name: Censorship in High School Play

Date:  2006-present

Location:  North America


MediumPerforming Art

Artist: Sleepy Hollow High Schools Gay-Straight Alliance

Confronting Bodies: High school administrators

Date of Action: May 2007

Specific Location: Sleepy Hollow, Weschester

Description of Artwork: Students from Sleepy Hollow High School wanted to stage a production of the "Laramie Project. The "Laramie Project" is a play that explores the killing of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, who was beaten, tied to a fence and left to die on the outskirts of Laramie. After Mr. Shepards death, members of the Tectonic Theater Project, a group based in New York, traveled to Laramie and interviewed more than 200 people. The edited interviews, as well as the trial testimony of the two men convicted of Mr. Shepards murder, were distilled into the script.

Description of Incident: Students from Sleepy Hollow High Schools Gay-Straight Alliance considered the plays message powerful and wanted to stage a production. But high schools are not independent theaters, and the students soon found themselves negotiating with the principal about the use of profanity in the play. The principle stated that it was the profanity, not the play's subject matter that clashed with the school's generally accepted standards.

Results of Incident: The students worked with a teacher to come up with an edited version of The Laramie Project. While they were in the midst of trying to find a school site for the production  the high school auditorium is under construction  a staff member at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville heard about the students efforts. The center was presenting its Out at the Movies lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender film series, so it seemed fitting to offer the theater for a reading. The students presented their reading at the film center on May 23, in a production that was not formally affiliated with the school. Still, the audience was filled with Sleepy Hollow students and parents.

Source: KATE STONE LOMBARDI, "A High School Drama Over Artistic Freedom," NY Times, Published: June 3, 2007

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