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A high school canceled this LGBTQ+ play. Students are now staging it themselves.

Senior Meadowe Freeman outside Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Senior Meadowe Freeman outside Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana.Photo: Screenshot

Students at an Indiana high school are moving ahead with an LGBTQ+ inclusive play after administrators canceled the production earlier this year.

Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana is just one of many schools across the country where student plays and musicals have been canceled or censored this year due to concerns over content. Howard Sherman, the managing director of the performing arts center at New York’s Baruch College, recently noted that the wave of opposition has been focused largely on productions with LGBTQ+ content.

As The Washington Post and other outlets have reported, students at Carroll High were informed two days into auditions for Marian, or the True Tale of Robin Hood that the play had been canceled due to complaints from parents about its LGBTQ+ characters. A re-telling of the Robin Hood story, the play features a nonbinary character and a same-sex couple.

“I know there were people who were upset that the play was being considered to be put on, I think there was worry about protests and things like that,” Northwest Allen County Schools superintendent Wayne Barker said at a school board meeting.

Almost immediately, students began talking about putting the play on themselves. They soon connected with Fort Wayne Pride, which organizes Pride events in the community, and launched a GoFundMe campaign on May 4.

As of this week, the campaign has raised over $79,000, well exceeding its $50,000 goal. The funds will go toward renting a venue, insurance, costumes, and set construction.

Fort Wayne native Blane Pressler, the artistic director of Ozark Actors Theatre, has returned to his hometown to help put on the play, which will run for one night only at the Foellinger Outdoor Theater on May 20.

“When I heard about this project I was really excited to jump on board,” Pressler, who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community, told WBOI. “Censorship also brought me here. Just knowing that art is very, very important and representation is really important and both of those being at risk with this made me want to do it.”

“Seeing that people have been so generous and so wanting to help us out, it’s heartwarming because I just didn’t expect it,” Carroll High senior Meadowe Freeman said.

“A few months ago, we thought this was completely hopeless,” said sophomore Peyton Stratton, who plays Marian in the production. “And it feels very earned in a way to be like ‘wow, we did it and it’s happening.’”

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