The show did not continue for drama students at Turlock High School after the school administration shut down the spring show following complaints filed after the first performance regarding the musical’s mature content.
Turlock High School has canceled the remaining performances of the spring show “Be More Chill” after its first performance on Thursday due to concerns that the content was too mature for general audiences including all age levels, according to the Turlock Unified School District.
The show is a musical based on a book of the same name by Joe Tracz. The original screenplay depicts mature themes such as teenagers experimenting with alcohol, drug use, and sex. Scenes in the play include students attending a house party where they do drugs. On the poster advertising the show, Turlock High’s drama department included a disclaimer stating that the show had mature themes and that parental guidance is suggested.
Students and parents have expressed shock that the school district is shutting down the show after all their hard work. The show’s creator also responded to the announcement of the cancellation on Twitter.
“So this was absolutely an official licensed BMC production,” tweeted “Be More Chill” playwright Joe Iconis. “I can’t understand how @turlockhs and @tusdsupdana (superintendent Dana Trevethan) could let students rehearse for months and allow them to do an REAL PERFORMANCE before pulling the plug because of the content? Can someone please explain?
“We are aware that many are very disappointed that the play has been canceled for performances open to the general public after opening night. We are committed to ensuring that protocols are in place in the future so that this does not happen again,” the school district said in a statement.
The students had the opportunity to perform for their immediate family in a private show on Saturday evening. While the students appreciated the opportunity, there was still a lot of frustration about canceling the remaining performances and not being able to perform for the community as a whole.
“It’s disappointing to know that the show cares more about making parents uncomfortable than how students feel about doing something they’ve worked hard for and then having it taken away from them. “, said Zefyra Mazuelos, member of the ensemble.
Depending on the school district, specific plays are selected to be performed each year by the drama teacher. The students think they’ve done shows with mature themes in the past, and the show’s messages were worth sharing.
“What I see and many others see looking deep into this show is the reality of high school, and how ‘Be More Chill’ sits right next to a different musical, ‘Dear Evan Hansen'” , said Dalton Howry who played the main character of the series, Jeremy. “These can be described in different ways and ‘Be More Chill’ can go much deeper than ‘Dear Evan Hansen’, but they both share a common theme of showing the importance of being seen and being seen. feel like you as a student. to others. Even after the character in the musical Jeremy realizes this after sacrificing so much, he realizes that it’s not even enough, but what was already more than enough was the relationships he already had with his friends.
While some parents had concerns about the content, other parents felt it was appropriate and had conversations with their children about the adult themes.
“For centuries the arts have been unfairly censored by the minority and it’s more or less the same,” said mother Melissa Lima. “Because a very small minority of parents do not approve of the highly realistic subject matter of sex, drugs, pornography and bisexuality, the district punishes not only the cast and crew of this production, but the many students who could have benefited from the message of this musical. On a personal level, I’m frustrated that as an involved parent, I researched the content of this show, which was rated PG13 and labeled mature from the start, and spoke to my daughter about the subject, her costumes, her role in the show, etc. I, as a mother, felt it was appropriate and allowed him to play.
“The infuriating irony is that the content that parents have objected to is just the tip of the iceberg of what children are exposed to on a daily basis at school,” said parent Kristi Mazuelos. “It’s high school. There’s swearing, bullying, alcohol, drug use, and sex. Parents need to know that these things aren’t just discussed, but happen at school. By forcing the hand of the drama teacher to shut down this musical, these parents have effectively lost an opportunity to talk about these issues that teenagers face. content is not only ignorant but harmful.
Some of the most frustrating parts for the students were that they weren’t able to fully enjoy the fruits of their labor and the elders wouldn’t get a proper farewell.
“When our amazing and hardworking director announced, while choking back tears, that the show was cancelled, I saw the expressions fade on the faces of my fellow cast members and silence settled in. the room,” said ensemble member Maguire Lima. “After 10 seconds of processing what we had just heard, tears welled up in everyone’s eyes. Tears of anger for the fact that we worked so hard, so many hours just to be closed. Tears of sadness from students whose friends and family couldn’t see them on opening night. Tears from seniors who realized they might never get back on stage again and were robbed of the opportunity to savor their last show. Tears of frustration that a few parents didn’t seek out the show sooner, then objected after it was too late to make changes.