Almost, Maine Will Continue in Maiden, NC; Kickstarter Campaign to Fund Production Begins

News   Almost, Maine Will Continue in Maiden, NC; Kickstarter Campaign to Fund Production Begins Following the cancellation of the Maiden High School production of John Cariani's Almost, Maine, a Kickstarter campaign has begun to fund a production of the play.

John Cariani
John Cariani

The production, which will feature Maiden High students, is seeking $1,000 through Kickstarter. As of Oct. 21, 38 backers have already pledged $1,328.

"We came together without a drama teacher to share our love of theater, with each other and with the community," the video states. "We found Almost, Maine. Our principal checked with the superintendent and approved our selection — provided we all got parent approval. We did. We paid our $350 for our school to buy performance rights and began rehearsals. After representatives of a local church met with our principal, however, he decided our 'town's not ready for this.' He shut our production down."

"Maiden is a small town, tucked away in a county that has never elected a minority and hasn't elected a Democrat for over 30 years. It's possible that the principal is correct, but that certainly shouldn't stop the students from performing it," the Kickstarter page states. "The local arts community has swiftly come to the aid of the students, and we're hoping to reach a nationwide audience."

As previously reported by Playbill.com, the principal's decision to cancel the performance came after students had already begun rehearsing the play at Maiden High School in Maiden, NC.

According to wsoctv.com, students say parents, as well as local churches, expressed complaints to the school that the play featured a same-sex couple among its characters. The 2004 play, written by actor-playwright Cariani and depicting a mythical town in northern Maine, was the most-produced play in American high schools in 2010.

The school's principal, Rob Bliss, released a statement that read: "Our faculty and staff are still in review of potential performances to be conducted by our students this fall. At this time, no final decision has been made regarding whether and what drama performances are to be presented this fall. In regards to the request for students to perform the play 'Almost Maine,' careful review and consideration was given to the contents of this play. The play contained sexually-explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendos that are not aligned with our mission and educational objectives.

"As principal of Maiden High School, I have an obligation to ensure that all material, including drama performances is appropriate and educationally sound for students of all ages."

Bliss has not responded to a Playbill.com request for an interview about the cancellation.

"I recognize that gender and sexuality issues are complicated for a public school to navigate. However, parents and administrators at Maiden High School should rest assured that Almost, Maine has been presented at nearly 2,000 educational institutions all over the country with great success and without incident," Cariani said in a statement.

"They should also rest assured that the scene in question, 'They Fell,' contains no swearing and no physical contact. It's a sweet, chaste, funny scene that explores the precise moment when a couple of young people — both of whom happen to be guys — fall in love. 'They Fell' asks audiences to consider the wonder of falling in love—which is not something anyone chooses to do. It just happens. And when a young person happens to fall in love with a person of the same sex, and they're from a place like Presque Isle, Maine (my hometown) or Maiden, North Carolina, joy doesn't typically follow. Fear and self-loathing — the roots of homophobia — follow.

Visit the kickstarter page here.

The cancellation of Almost, Maine follows a similar event at a PA high school, which stopped a production of the Tony Award-winning musical Spamalot due to gay content within the plot.

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