A Maryland college has decided to cancel a production of an anti-racist play on the grounds that it may “upset” some students.
The Washington College theater department had planned a performance of Larry Shue’s The Foreigner, an anti-racist farce that satirizes and ridicules the KKK. It seems like that would be a well-received production in today’s campus climate. However, Reason (pulling from The College Fix) reports that the theater department was forced to cancel the play two days before a scheduled dress rehearsal.
The play is thoroughly anti-racist, anti-KKK, and pro-immigrant. But Washington College’s administration, worried that the production “could potentially upset some members of the campus community,” cancelled it just two days before dress rehearsal. The College Fix‘s Troy Sargent reports that the decision was made by interim theater chair Laura Eckelman, with the support of the dean of the college.
The administration seeks to “balance the right of free speech with our values of inclusion and compassion,” a spokesperson told The College Fix.
Student director Megan Stagg was not consulted in the decision to cancel the play.
The Elm, Washington College’s student paper, notes that some students considered any depiction of the KKK—even a negative one—to be an endorsement of racism that would make marginalized members of campus feel unsafe. Several cast members were told that they were racist for appearing in such a play.
A campus representative told the student paper that it isn’t funny to make fun of bad people.
“Putting the KKK on stage in a satirical way is not appropriate because nothing about the historical and present day ramifications of the KKK is funny,” Felicia Attor, secretary of diversity for the college’s student government, told The Elm. “This is about acknowledging the need for all, not some, students to feel safe on this campus.”
The theater department had planned to hold a discussion following the performance, a seemingly natural thing to do on a college campus. However, their plans were thwarted when the administration canceled the show.
“This show is about giving a voice to the voiceless and we have been undermined and received hate for it through the cancelation,” said cast member Will Reid, who had been set to lead a post-show panel discussion that would have explored the play’s themes.
You can never be woke enough. Never.