A high school’s rendition of “The Foreigner” has parents questioning where the line should be drawn when including children in messages about racial prejudice.
According to ABC15, Arizona State University (ASU) Preparatory Academy’s drama department dressed three students in full Ku Klux Klan regalia for its play.
As ABC15 reports, one parent, who declined to be identified at his daughter’s request, described what he saw during the production.
“Three students dressed as the KKK walked down the middle of the assembly as part of a play. They were in hooded robes.”
Parents were surprised. They say the school had never notified them about the controversial costumes. The anonymous parent felt there was no reason that the students needed the hooded attire to portray the characters.
“We can talk about racial prejudice, we can talk about the insensitivity, but to have our children put on the robes and assume the characters, it’s wrong…There is no justification for it.”
As ABC15 reports, another father said he was not upset about the costume because his son is Hispanic. In fact, the majority of the students at the academy are Hispanic, making up 75 percent of the student body. On the other hand, 11 percent of the school’s students are white and the remaining nine percent are African American.
A spokesperson for ASU Preparatory Academy released the following statement:
Last Friday, high school students in a drama class at ASU Preparatory Academy in downtown Phoenix staged a production of noted American playwright Larry Shue’s “The Foreigner.” The presentation of the play was done during the capstone period of the school day. Students in the class read several plays early in the fall and chose to perform ‘The Foreigner.’ The play portrays an image of members of Klansmen in a brief scene toward the end in which they are made fun of and driven away.
We apologize if anyone was caught by surprise with the appearance of these characters. We are confident that a fair reading of the text of the play, and a fair interpretation of the intentions of students who performed it, reveals no endorsement of bigotry.
According to TVTropes, the two-act comedy touches on racial injustice with the character of a racist property inspector named Owen. The inspector threatens to seize a Georgia fishing lodge property from the two lead characters and turn it into a headquarters for the KKK.
One parent felt that guardians should have had a say in the matter.
“At least inform the parents, give us the ability to make that decision. The KKK walked into my kid’s school Friday and I didn’t get to stop it.”
But this isn’t the first time “The Foreigner” has caused problems for a school. As ABC15 reports, a Minnesota school decided to shut down their production last year after their costumes had online users raving.