A Queer Jewish Play Has Been Canceled By Florida’s School Board


Sara Krulwich, New York Times

Adina Verson (left) and Katrina Lenk (right) in the play Indecent

Allison Walze, Reporter

On January 5th, a play that featured queer Jewish characters has been shut down by Florida’s School Board. The play in question was Paula Vogel’s play entitled Indecent, which was scheduled to be performed by students at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville. The play itself is about about the daughter of a brothel owner who falls in love with one of her father’s workers. Now that the play has been canceled, some of the Jacksonville residents fear what this could mean.

Due to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill aimed at limiting discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity, Scotti, a student actor at the school believes that this is the reason of its cancelation. Vogel, the play’s writer, feared it was homophobia that caused it to be shut down, an idea shared by Jacksonville residents.

The Board decided to cancel this play due to deeming it too mature for high school students. Vogel claims the show is completely appropriate for a teenage audience and deeming it otherwise would be nonsense.  If it was needed, she would allow changes to the play’s showcase of sexuality such as removing profanities or making the girls hold hands instead of kiss.

Vogel fully believes that the censorship of art is a step towards a totalitarianism, which has happened in history before. Vogel said, “it’s burning books. It’s closing down theaters. … In all societies as we go towards fascism, the arts are labeled as degenerate.” In some places history involving the Holocaust is being removed such as in one of Tennessee’s districts, the Holocaust memoir “Maus” has been removed. Texas and Missouri had also removed books involving the Holocaust for a short period of time. The concern of fascism returning has been stressed more lately, as the term Neo-Nazi has been talked about more. As Philissa Cramer, journalist of the Jewish Journal wrote, “Anti-Defamation League issued a report last year raising alarms about extremist activity,” here in Florida.

This new wave of censoring of both the arts and history have many on edge for what this could mean. Plays featuring a sexual orientation and gender expression could be banned from being put on stage by students. Which means, students here at OCSA may not be able to write plays or perform them to see themselves represented on stage. Along with the fear that discrimination towards Jewish people will intensify now that their history and art are being removed from the public.

The students at the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts are not giving up though. They have another play in the works which they are currently discussing and meeting about. Inspired by the Broadway theatre’s community, some of the student actors are still going to push forth with something new, as Scotti has said, “from ashes we rise!”