“Assassins” Banned

Ken AshfordGun Control, Theatre2 Comments

Assassins_mediumArt suffers:

After the Virginia Tech murders a year ago, Yale University banned the use of stage weapons in a student theatrical production — infuriating actors and educators who believed audience members could distinguish drama from real life. After a few days of ridicule, Yale backed down.

A year later, after another gun tragedy, college officials are still trying to figure out how to make their campuses safe — and theater still is a target. A student production of Assassins, the award-winning musical, was to have premiered Thursday night at Arkansas Tech University, but the administration banned it — and permitted a final dress rehearsal Wednesday night (so the cast could experience the play on which students have worked long hours) only on the condition that wooden stage guns were cut in half prior to the event and not used. Assassins is a musical in which the characters are the historic figures who have tried to kill a U.S. president.

Robert C. Brown, Arkansas Tech’s president, issued a statement explaining the decision as follows: “All of us have a healthy respect for the freedom of artistic expression that college theater represents, and all of us agree that out of respect for the families of those victims of the tragedies at Northern Illinois University and Virginia Tech, and from an abundance of caution, it is best at this time not to undertake a campus production that contains the portrayal of graphically violent scenes.”

It is best not to undertake a campus production that contains the portrayal of graphically violent scenes?

Why, exactly?

What’s the fear?  Is it likely to send students into a gun-shooting frenzy?  Cannot Arkansas students recognize the difference between "violence" in a freakin musical (and really, it’s not terribly violent) and actual violence?


I like this paragraph in the above article:

Further frustrating faculty members, there have been reports of gun shots — and a recent shooting injury — at parties organized by Arkansas Tech students, but the students organizing those parties were reportedly football players, not thespians. Some questioned why what they see as a false concern (fake guns in drama) was getting attention, as opposed to what they view as more serious problems. Others said that they viewed an order to stop a play as a violation of academic freedom.

Yeah.  Football is violent.  It’s actual violence, too, not pretend stage violence.  You gonna ban that , Arkansas Tech?

[Pictured above.  The graphic for "Assassins".  Since Arkansas students apparently cannot distinguish between a gun and a finger, I feel compelled to report that the "assassin" in the photo is extending a finger.]