Drama at Fulton High School

1 decade 7 months 2 days ago February 23, 2006 Feb 23, 2006 Thursday, February 23 2006 Thursday, February 23, 2006 4:50:21 PM CST in News

The controversy started with a play many of us know well.

"See, I own it. I love it. It's a great movie," said parent Terra Guittar.

Terra and Mike Guittar own the movie "Grease," but they didn't like the stage version they started to see last November.

"We ended up leaving the play because of what we saw," explained Terra.

This is video from a dress rehearsal. But, when the Guittars watched the actual performance, they walked out of the 1970s high school drama.

"I had no problems with the musical "Grease" at all," said Terra. "It was the fact as to how far they pushed it."

Guittar says student actors referred to drinking and smoking, and used profanity on stage. Her daughter, Stephanie, worked backstage on the production.

"I don't feel like they had the right to force the profanity and what I consider to be immoral behavior on my child," said Guittar.

So, she e-mailed her concerns to the superintendent.

Mark Enderle told her many people e-mailed him with similar concerns. Terra thought the curtain closed on the controversy. But, one month later, it was time to pick the spring play.

Enderle told the Fulton High School drama department to choose a production other than Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," which deals with the Salem, Mass. witch trials.

Enderle and the school's drama teacher would not talk on camera with KOMU. But, in a statement, Enderle said he decided against "The Crucible" to avoid more scrutiny.

"We didn't even know about "The Crucible." We heard about "The Crucible" for the first time in the Fulton Sun," said Terra Guittar.

The controversy went all the way from the local newspaper to the New York Times, which called it a culture war in small-town Fulton, Mo.

Ironically, that led to more scrutiny, including critical e-mails calling Enderle small-minded, plus letters to the editor of the local paper.

The Fulton drama department is getting ready for a "Mid-Summer Night's Dream," but some question what will be on stage in the future.

William Woods theatre professor Joe Potter wonders about the chilling effect Enderle's decision might have on other high schools.

"I think the teacher was trying to do something challenging and educational," said Potter. "And here again, because of a few, she was not allowed to do that. And I think it's sad for her, for the kids involved and, ultimately, for the community."

Enderle's statement said he did not ban "The Crucible." In fact, he said it's a production to consider for future plays.

He said it's unfortunate that "what was intended to protect our students was perceived otherwise."

The Guittars agree future thespians and theatre-goers at Fulton High School need protection.

"You should be able to bring your 5- and 6-year-old brothers and sisters, and grandparents, to a high school play without being offended," said Terra.

The Guittars say that couldn't happen with the play that started the controversy.

As for the school district, Superintendent Enderle won't say if he plans to influence future plays at Fulton High.

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