I had an assistant principal come into my drama class the other day during student scene and monologue performances. Did she come into the auditorium during the nice wholesome scenes early in the class? No. She came in during the scene that two young men begged to perform because it was so much like their own lives - and it really is a great little scene about one of the guy’s messed up relationship. The scene I allowed them to use all of the obscenities (after warning the class…the same way they would have to in competition). I knew the second she walked in (backstage, so it took a few minutes to see her), and I was uncomfortable. The fact that I was uncomfortable tells me that perhaps I misjudged letting them do that particular scene.
When I went to speak to her about it, she explained that she was “flabbergasted” that she heard so many obscenities, and wondered if I allowed it. I explained to her that, of course, I had given them permission. To which she replied, “Well, you need to be careful on this side of the county. Be able to defend your decisions.”
She’s not wrong (although I wonder at someone being so “flabbergasted” at 3 f-bombs in a high school). Maybe I did make an error in judgement…I never want to be uncomfortable when an administrator comes into my class. But on the other hand, I keep hearing this statement, you have to be careful on this side of the county…as if this were a completely different country. And they must be right since I do keep hearing it. The school and community culture, just 20 miles from where my old school was (and this would never have been an issue), is so vastly different that I think my lapse wasn’t so much in judgement as much as in being unfamiliar with the much more conservative culture over here.
I just hate to self-censor so much fantastic theatrical material for middle school drivel because so much of the good stuff DOES have cussing and sexual themes, but that’s why we have the asterisk system we do to note it (and just to be clear, I DO KNOW what isn’t appropriate, generally speaking).
Now I’m a just a bit paranoid about my decisions altogether, since don’t want to offend anyone and at the same time want the kids to have a great drama experience while being exposed to all the really awesome stuff out there.