Thirsty Thursday: Dramatists Guild Defends Spamalot Vs. Pennsylvania Prudes

The Dramatists Guild of America, the national professional organization for composers, playwrights, and lyricists, has issued a letter to the administrators of a South Williamsport High School that cancelled the Tony Award winning musical Spamalot because of a same-sex wedding during the show.

The Guild’s president Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin) rebukes the school for not even trying to make the show work in a letter that goes like this:  “In the past, when a school principal has considered censoring high school theatre,” he wrote, “the Dramatists guild has offered to help for such preparation,” citing a recent production of Rent that was reinstated at a school in Connecticut. “But while we would gladly serve your community by helping place Spamalot and its various themes into context so that the production can go forward, your well-publicized emails from June imply that any preparation would be futile.”

Schwartz encouraged the school to prioritize its “obligation to educate, not merely to placate bigotry so as to avoid ‘controversy,’” adding, “And if avoiding controversy was your sole purpose, you have clearly failed on that count in rather dramatic fashion.”

The letter concludes by accusing the officials of “using your authority to impose your own personal worldview on the choice of plays presented to the community,” an “agenda” the “writers of the Dramatist Guild vehemently oppose.”

Superintendent Mark Stamm explained that by nixing the show they intended “to protect students so they’re not in a position to choose between what they believe in and participating.” Given the show includes a same-sex marriage, “Where does that leave the kid who disagrees with it?”

I would note that the students who were excited about the show are now wondering “what ever happened to my part?”