Just when you thought it was safe, another misguided educator is attempting to censor one of America’s greatest authors and playwrights. They started by Bowdlerizing Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Now, they’re going after one of the greatest black authors and playwrights in history, August Wilson, for his use of controversial racial language. A performance of August Wilson’s play “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” is being objected to by the Waterbury Board of Education due to Wilson’s use of the word “nigger.” This, despite the fact that August Wilson was black, the cast of the play is mostly black, the subject of the play is the black experience in America, and the play is being performed in honor of Black History Month.
“The use of the N-word is something all civil rights leaders around the country want us to stop using,” said Waterbury superintendent David Snead, who is black.
Waterbury Arts Magnet School is going ahead with the play anyway, according to principal. The theater arts program, including teachers like Nina A. Smith, have prepared a full educational program centered around the play and its use of language, including discussions, study guides, question-and-answer periods, and open rehearsals. They also got approval from the parents of the students in the play before choosing to perform “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.” The school considered changing the wording, but the company that owns the rights to Wilson’s works will not allow the language written by a man who won TWO Pulitzer Prizes to be tampered with.
“After seven years in existence, the school has students who were mature enough and had taken enough classes and were able to do this play,” said Ms. Smith. ”Our students have learned their lines very quickly, they’re already off-book, and they’re really thinking hard about the themes of identity and loss in the play.”
Image: Lincoln Center Theater
Tags: August Wilson, Waterbury Arts Magnet School, Waterbury Board of Education, Waterbury, Connecticut, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, David Snead, Nina A. Smith, plays, controversial plays, high school performance of August Wilson play in trouble, civil rights, black history month, pulitzer prize winning play called too controversial for school