June 22, 2005
Ileana Collins, Sterling
As the parent of a drama student at Potomac Falls High School, I’d like to express my support for the theatre programs and drama teachers of Loudoun County. I trust the teachers to select plays they deem appropriate for their students and the community at large. The restrictions being proposed would put a damper on creativity and signal a lack of trust in the teachers and students. There must be an outlet for creative expression in the community. Free speech is guaranteed in this country. An attempt to suppress it connotes fear and insecurity on the part of those seeking to impose restrictions and standards.
Teachers must feel free to decide which plays they will produce. The public is free to decide whether to attend performances. Students are free to decide if they want to participate in a production. Under the standards being contemplated, many plays, even some classics, would be considered inappropriate. There is a fear that if some plays, such as the controversial one at Stone Bridge High School, are shown it will be seen as an endorsement of a lifestyle. Let’s give our teachers and students more credit, please. The students and community are not going to be harmed by the suggestion of an alternative sexuality or lifestyle in a high-school play. There is more openness now, and people should be allowed to draw their own conclusions and make their own judgments.
The proposed drama policy is a move to impose one side’s views on the rest of the community. It is about control and shows a lack of respect for creative expression and freedom of speech. It is an authoritarian and paternalistic power play meant to intimidate and stifle creative freedom.
It is an attempt to infantilize the county’s population by giving it what the authorities declare as acceptable and safe to absorb. We are not children who need to be told what is good for us as parents and students to see and hear. Teenagers are entering adulthood and are already exposed to the many currents roiling a free society. You cannot shield them from “bad” influences – they’re all around. Producing topical and edgy plays that tackle the issues of our time does not signify a breakdown of values. Repression of artistic freedom constitutes a greater danger to what is supposed to be a democratic society. There is no need to impose a “drama policy.” What is needed is encouragement of and support for the hard-working, dedicated and creative drama teachers and students of Loudoun County.