Parents Planning to Protest at Amity BOE Meeting

They say the Drama Department's musical production is too violent.

A group of parents and community organizations are reportedly planning to protest tonight at the Amity Board of Education meeting for what they are calling a "despicable" decision.

The protest, made public in an announcement posted on Patch, questions the high school Drama Department's musical production choice, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Of the musical, the announcement, posted by Laura Carroll, states:

"Amity High School students are assigned and taught to perform the horrific acts of gruesome murder, cannibalism, rape, suicide, etc."

"Our children and communities are still going through the effects of the Sandy Hook massacre. What is Amity’s message to these children? Amity High School is supporting violence in our community."

The play is described this way, in a review written by Richard Eder and published in The New York Times on March 2, 1979, following its Broadway debut:

"It is the story of a barber, unjustly convicted and transported to Australia by a wicked judge who coveted his wife. Upon his return the barber takes the name Sweeney Todd, and takes his general and particular revenge by slitting the throats of his clients, who are then turned into meat pies by his industrious associate, Mrs. Lovett."

For Eder, the production was an "extraordinary, fascinating, and often ravishingly lovely effort," yet, he writes:

"There is, in fact, no serious social message in Sweeney; and at the end, when the cast lines up on the stage and points to us, singing that there are Sweeneys all about; the point is unproven."

"The Amity Board of Education Meeting on Monday, March 11, 2013 will be faced by parents and community organizations protesting this despicable form of education," Carroll writes.

The meeting is at 6:30 p.m., in the cafeteria at Amity Regional High School, 25 Newtown Road in Woodbridge.

The agenda includes discussion and possible action on the superintendent's proposed budget for 2013-14, among a host of other items. The full agenda is attached as a PDF to this article.

orange mom March 13, 2013 at 09:59 AM
@ Jonas.......who said "STOP THE SHOW" I didn't hear anyone say that. They have a right to express their opinion. Freedom does not go in one direction.
Alex March 15, 2013 at 02:08 AM
It does appear the show will go on unfortunately. As stated in my earlier response, this will be the first year I do boycott, by not taking my family. The world is exposed to enough uncontrolled violence without choosing it for entertainment. We regularly attend theater as well and for a family production this just isn't suitable for us. Hopefully in the future Amity will choose from the other dozens of wonderful productions in the world that all ages are able to see and not have to cringe every time we drive by the horrible signs posted at Woodbridge intersections, such as Sweeny Todd.
Karla DeMaris March 17, 2013 at 06:32 PM
I am an Amity alum ('79), and am currently teaching English for a district other than Amity. I would like to address my comments to the statement that this play has “no serious social message.” In fact, it has several. On the surface, it is a cautionary tale directed at those who abuse the social power that they possess. One never knows when another Sweeney Todd will become unhinged, and disregard human decency and the law to exact vengeance on his perceived tormentors. On a deeper level, the audience is asked to identify the point at which sympathy can no longer condone bad behavior. Deeper still is the question of who is responsible for the horrors that Sweeney Todd brought upon his world. Perhaps the answer is that we are all, in some way, responsible—some of us for starting the dominoes to fall; others of us for willingly falling with the dominoes; and still others for merely standing back and watching. I think our children need to be aware that dangerous people such as Sweeney Todd exist in our world. When these kinds of subjects are handled artistically, we have a medium for engaging our children and each other in conversations that can be difficult to have. It is unfortunate that some people have linked this performance to the tragedy in Newtown; but it is conversely fortunate that we can use art as a way of discussing that tragedy. Perhaps the discussion can lead to a means of preventing future tragedies. Who is responsible? What are we doing with the dominoes?
Use your Head March 17, 2013 at 06:41 PM
This is all interesting comment. While I don't necessarily agree it's a "constitutional right" to be allowed to produce this play at Amity High School, I have no doubt this production will be another excellent example of Amity's theatrical talent, and will exhibit months of hard work on the parts of many people. What is unfortunate is the knee jerk reaction to ANY type of perceived violence in schools. We have gone so overboard that children are being suspended for playing cops and robbers with hands pointing like a gun; for eating a bite from a pop tart which then “resembles a gun”; for wearing Marine T shirts to school with rifles depicted on the bottom. This has gotten a little out of hand. Now days all a child has to say is “I feel uncomfortable” about someone, and the next thing you know, the Principal has interviewed every child on the bus to get to the bottom of a non-issue. Many children who are suspended are still innocent enough to not even know why they are being punished. Let’s be rational, and use our common sense.
Karen April 25, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Oh my, if this is a representation of the writing skills that our Amity High School students are capable of then perhaps we should be more concerned with this rather than a play that displays violence!


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