One of nine theater arts departments within the Alvin Independent School District is coming under scrutiny after its fall show was cancelled following two of three scheduled performances in late October.
The theater department at Alvin High School, under the direction of Laurie Reese and Drake Simpson, had its actors perform “The Wondrous Strange” two consecutive nights, Thursday and Friday, Oct. 27 and 28.
The third performance, however, scheduled Saturday, Oct. 29, was scratched after Alvin ISD officials received complaints in regard to the “mature” nature that the Alvin Theater Arts Department presented to the public.
Daniel Combs, with Alvin ISD’s professional learning and student & community engagement, commented on the cancellation through a prepared statement a few days later.
“After administrative review of the Friday evening performance, it was decided that the mature portrayal of various social phenomenon, including references to death, suicide, drinking and insinuations to prostitution were not fully in alignment with the values of our district and community,” Combs said. “Additionally, the fall play is a community performance and many families with younger children attend. For these reasons, the decision was made to cancel the performance scheduled for Saturday evening.”
Alvin ISD’s move to cancel the show was also broadcast on several Houston television news stations.
Several students and relatives gave their opinions about how unnecessary it was for AISD officials to react to the student production.
“The district is currently reviewing our processes to ensure that our fine arts programs continue to offer our students new and unique opportunities, while also honoring the values of our district and community,” Combs said.
When asked if administrators were privy to what would be shown, Combs said, “We did have an approval process in place. Certainly administratively, the script was reviewed. The portrayal was done in a mature way.”
According to AHS’s Theater Department website, those associated with the production began working on this Sept. 12 after school. The calendar shows work on various scenes continued until Oct. 21.
Dress rehearsals were Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 24 and 25.
No AHS official or AISD official ever came forward with concerns until complaints surfaced through word of mouth and social media.
“It should be noted that our students did a remarkable job in their preparations, acting, set design and technical support,” Combs said. “Alvin ISD has a proven track record of supporting fine arts and we look forward to the continued success of our students.”
“Wondrous Strange” is one of four performances AHS had planned. The other productions include “Beauty and the Beast,” “Smokefall,” and a performance in the One-Act Play Festival.
Among the other schools that have theater departments are Manvel and Shadow Creek high schools, and Alvin, Manvel, Fairview, Harby, Ryan and Rodeo Palms junior high schools.
For more information on AISD’s theater arts departments, visit www.alvinisd.net.