Riding the lukewarm response from their all-white versions of Bye Bye Birdie (’18), Little Shop of Horrors (’17), and their mostly-white version of Into the Woods (’16), Middlebury High School announces their all-white production of Grease—set to premiere this fall.
When asked why she insists on producing all-white musicals, Cindy Fleming, the head of Middlebury’s drama program, had these words: “I do not classify my work as such. I merely aim for relevance and historical accuracy in my art. It just so happens that I’m also literally incapable of making space where students of color feel welcome, safe, and respected. I think the point we’re glossing over here is just how revolutionary my work is—most schools produce musicals in the spring.” Fleming went on to tell reporters that she fully expects to pressure the actress cast as Rizzo into dropping out so that she’ll be forced to martyr the role.
When asked to comment, Middlebury High’s administration said that they are implementing their signature “hands-off strategy” to what they consider an issue that has little to nothing to do with race. “I mean, come on, Grease is set in the ’50s—segregation existed back then. Not for nothing, but, if you think about it, it should be an all-white musical,” said Principal Dan Whiteman.
Even despite the administration’s opinionated indifference, there is another student petition going around calling for Fleming’s resignation. Regarding the petition, Fleming had these words: “To that I say: the Superintendant is my brother!”
Though this story is entirely fake news and all material within is a fabrication of the writer’s imagination, this is a reality for many students across our country and Town Stages firmly believes it needs to stop. And, maybe, just maybe, if every all-white production had to brand itself as such, it might change the conversation around representation on our stages and screens. Town Stages is a real-life event space in Tribeca with a mission to support under-valued and under-represented voices in the arts. Click here to learn more about the space or to book a tour.