The ATCA executive committee has joined the protest over the cancelation of a scheduled production of Spamalot at the South Williamsport Junior/Senior High School in Williamsport, Pa., because of, according to principal, Jesse Smith, its “homosexual themes.”
In a Sept. 19 letter to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mark Stamm and School Board President John Engel, the excom expressed its opposition, saying, “As journalists, we support your students’ First Amendment right to exercise free speech, which does not stop at the doorways of our public schools.” Further, the action misunderstands the artistic and social purposes of satire, musical comedy and education itself.
The letter (click below for full text) was signed by all nine excom members on behalf of ATCA’s nationwide membership of professional print, broadcast and internet theater critics.
In explaining the letter, excom chair Jonathan Abarbanel commented that the South Williamsport school officials “do not seem to understand either the musical or literary purposes of musical comedy, and certainly have failed to recognize the nature of satire, which is central to Spamalot. Yes, the show features two men who marry each other, but at the same time it satirizes gay stereotypes. It also is highly irreverent about disco music, Arthurian legend, armed combat, maiming, the Bubonic Plague, kingship, horsemanship, the preponderance of Broadway producers who are Jews, and God, who is an unseen but often-heard character in Spamalot. ATCA is pleased to join the Dramatists Guild of America in protesting the South Williamsport decision and calling attention to the illogic of it.”