COLUMBIA — Smithton Middle School’s annual spring play has been canceled this year, less than a month before the first performance, because the school deemed the content too mature for some students.
The plays, which were to begin March 6, deal with a subject of concern to middle schoolers, but are presented in a controversial manner.
Principal Craig Martin and drama teacher Deborah Baldwin decided to cancel the production, composed of two short plays.
“The plays are called ‘Thank You for Flushing My Head in the Toilet (and other rarely used expressions)’ and ‘Now You See Me,’” Baldwin said. “They speak about bullying and school violence.”
Last year, students presented “Number the Stars” and in 2006 they performed “Tom Sawyer.”
The decision to cancel was made for many reasons, according to a letter sent by the school to the parents of students.
According to the letter, the plays would require that students be prepared by teachers for the mature content presented, but the class time necessary to do so might not be available with Missouri Assessment Program testing coming up. The plays could be “a little too much” for some middle school students, according to the letter.
“Personally, I think we misjudged the content of the plays and didn’t realize the amount of teacher preparation it would take to ready the students seeing the plays,” Baldwin said.
“Now You See Me,” a one-act play by Jonathan Dorf, is a comedy with serious overtones about a non-descript teenager collapsing under pressure from parents, teachers and other students. “Thank You for Flushing My Head in the Toilet (and other rarely used expressions),” also by Dorf, is a drama concerning two students and the bullying they face at school.
Everyone involved in the production of the plays had been working hard to bring these productions to the stage.
“My students and I were disappointed, but sometimes it’s best to play it safe and that’s where I stand on the issue,” Baldwin said.
Because of the belated decision, the school will not sponsor a production this spring.
Martin confirmed the details of the letter, but did not wish to comment further.