The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

September 9, 2013

Supporters: Why ban play?

OTTUMWA — There were some tough questions for the Ottumwa school board at their meeting Monday. One that seemed to draw the biggest crowd: What's the thought process behind banning "The Laramie Project" play?

Most speakers about the play were disappointed in the district decision not to allow The Laramie Project at the Ottumwa High School

Superintendent Davis Eidahl had previously said while he had nothing against the play itself, he wanted the district to concentrate on the production of plays with a more family-friendly theme.

The play revolves around one town's reaction to the beating death of 21-year-old gay college student Matthew Shepard. Supporters say the play shows how being different can cause any of us to be hatefully targeted, and how everyday people react to tragedy when someone who is different is the victim. Detractors call it a play that supports acceptance of a gay person's inappropriate lifestyle, as well as a very adult-themed production not appropriate for high school kids.

After several supporters of the play spoke, a different type of supporter said he wanted to thank Davis Eidahl for his leadership.

Bryan Wyldes said some plays are not meant for kids. And not just young children, but high school students who will perform in the production. Parents and schools, he said, are tasked with presenting youngsters with age-appropriate material. He is glad that Eidahl's integrity means his tax dollars aren't going to support something morally inappropriate.

School board members, can't we discuss this, asked Dale Dommer.

Dommer is one of the people working to produce the play outside of the high school.

"I was hoping to get some clarity on why this decision was made. I have heard nothing," he said.

The bad language has been cut because he and co-producers are aware that young people will be involved, he said.

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