A small group gathered at the Clovis Unified school board meeting Wednesday night to protest the cancellation of a high school production of the play “No Exit.”
About 10 people attended the meeting in support of the play, which was written in 1944 by Nobel Prize-winning playwright Jean-Paul Sartre and features a lesbian who turns a woman against her husband.
Buchanan High put on one performance of the play before it was shut down by district officials because of its adult themes.
Three of the people carried signs into the meeting and some who made comments asked the board to reconsider the cancellation, noting other content approved by the high school, such as some of the works of Shakespeare, is just as mature and that the district’s children are watching the board’s actions.
Board members did not respond to any of the speakers.
Inga Minton, a retired nurse with a theater background who has grandchildren attending Clovis Unified schools, said before the meeting that last month’s decision to halt the production angered her.
“I’ve just had it – let’s dumb down our kids,” she said. “The more you give children, especially high school students, the more they can choose in the world and make good decisions. It’s not what we’re heading to in this country and it makes me angry.”
Clovis Unified last month said the play was not canceled because of its gay character, but because of sexual themes and other mature content. “No Exit” is set in hell, and discusses murder, infidelity and torture.
“We own the fact that it should never have even been approved as a senior production in the first place,” CUSD spokeswoman Kelly Avants said then.
Adrian Rivera, a Buchanan alum, said Wednesday night that response didn’t sit well with him.
“Despite your official answer,” Rivera said, “it feels like it’s for a different reason: You don’t want gay characters in Buchanan.”
Minton also said she did not agree with CUSD’s explanation.
“If we get rid of this play, we’d have to get rid of so many plays,” she said.
Parent supports cancellation of play
Crystal Reed, a parent of CUSD students who attended district schools herself, said she was in support of the administration for banning the play.
“We’re turning everything into an LGBT theme these days,” she said. “You guys (the board) finally listened to the parents who show up to all the board meetings, not just when it suits you. There’s a big difference (between) reading a book and performing a play. They could choose to see the play at a college. You guys keep it PG, and that’s where it should stand.”
The petition on change.org states, “The reason we were given for the cancellation was something along the lines of there’s a lesbian character and some parents may have to explain to their child that some women love other women. That our audience doesn’t approve of homosexuality, and we should be playing to our audience.”