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This Week in Freudenfreude: The Show Must Go On

There was a fellow in England, a few years back, who liked to play around with gender roles in his plays. He did it in As You Like It, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice and Cymbeline. Of course, what would Bill Shakespeare know about drama? Meanwhile, there is also a long literary tradition of re-envisioning classic works from the perspective other than the one featured in the original text. One thinks of the various spins on the Sherlock Holmes canon that make Dr. Watson, or Irene Adler or Mycroft Holmes the true protagonist of the stories. Or of Wicked, which presents The Wizard of Oz from the viewpoint of the Wicked Witch of the West (and her sister). Or of Heartless, which creates a substantial (and sympathetic) backstory for the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.

We say this as prelude to an item that, by chance and not by any sort of plan, works as a pretty good complement to the item above. Carroll High School is in Fort Wayne, IN, and the theater students there worked hard to mount a production of a play entitled Marian, or The True Tale of Robin Hood. As you might infer from the title of the work, or from the setup in the previous paragraph, the play turns the story of Robin Hood on its head, and makes Robin's romantic interest the true protagonist. There are also several LGBTQ characters, including one who is trans. Once (some) parents got wind of the details, complaints were lodged, and the show was canceled.

Now, time for a sidebar. As (Z) has mentioned once or twice, he was heavily involved in theater in high school. And, at risk of being immodest, he was pretty good at it, to the point that he was named Orange County's Artist of the Year when he was a senior. And during that time, there was nothing more obnoxious than complaining parents (which happened a fair bit, since Orange County was still pretty conservative back then). The parents almost invariably did not really understand the material they were complaining about, and had children who were barely connected (or not connected at all) to the theater program. Further, they could never really answer this question: "If you don't like A Streetcar Named Desire or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty or A Company of Wayward Saints, then how about you just stay home and not subject yourself to it?" None of (Z)'s shows was canceled outright, but there were certainly line and scene changes, some of them imposed at the last minute. Sadly, (Z) sometimes "forgot" to deliver the new line correctly, though he definitely tried to look directly at the parent in question, so they knew he was surely trying his very best to accommodate their delicate sensibilities. (When you win Artist of the Year, and it gets in all the papers, it affords a certain amount of leeway.)

Anyhow, the kids at Carroll High got canceled outright. And they certainly could have given up, since it's not like properly equipped theaters are to found on every street corner. But they did not give up; they raised $85,000, which was enough to rent an off-campus venue for the performance. And it's fair to say that the show was a success, and was apparently to the liking of the community, since it attracted an audience of... 1,500 people. Anyone who's ever done high school theater (or, in fact, community theater of any sort) knows that is an enormous crowd.

In short, the Carroll High drama crowd stood up to the anti-woke crowd, did their show despite being canceled, and made national news, all at the same time. There's an awful lot of freudenfreude in that. And if you would also like a side of schadenfreude to go along with it, head over to Fox and read the pearl-clutching comments on their article about the play.

Have a good weekend, all!(Z)

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