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Protestors share views before play

April 04, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Four women stood outside Williamsport High School Thursday evening to quietly protest the school's production of "Les Misrables."

One of the women, Amy Myers, has a grandson in the play.

Myers previously filed a written complaint to the Washington Board of Education about the play's dialogue, which includes "bitch," "bastard" and "hell." She requested that the play be halted.

A school district committee rejected her complaint, letting the show go on.

The women stood with signs Thursday and chatted with people on their way in.

Theatergoer Richard Hershey, the president of Potomac Playmakers, a local acting company, stopped to debate.

Hershey said the story is classic and the words aren't so bad.

A woman holding a sign that read "Cursing in School, You'll Get Suspension, But in a School Play They Call it Entertainment, Double Standard" argued back.

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The woman said it's offensive to call a woman "bitch."

Hershey said it's also offensive to call a woman "pig," but it's no reason to censor a show.

"All these words are pretty mild," Hershey said. "They're in the dictionary."

The woman said the rough words and sexual themes are too graphic for high school actors and they prevent young children from attending.

Hershey, who has worked together with "Les Misrables" director Ruth Ridenour, disagreed.

"I feel that what they are doing is casting a little pall over the intents and purposes of a good group of children who could (otherwise) be out stealing hubcaps," he said.

Once the show started, the protesters had no one to talk to outside. The woman who argued with Hershey and another woman walked away. They wouldn't stop to give their names. Myers said they were friends of hers who didn't want to be in the newspaper.

"There should have been more of a family-oriented show," said another friend, Naomi Mattheiss, who stood next to Myers.

Myers, who has vowed to protest each night, said the school district never answered her original question, which is why off-color language could draw a suspension during school hours but is allowed in a play.

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