The documentary play, titled Voices in Conflict, will have a performance at the Public on June 15 at 7 PM and a separate performance at the Culture Project on another date. A third performance at a Connecticut theatre is also being discussed.
The play, put together by students in Bonnie Dickinson's advanced theatre class at Wilton High School, is a series of monologues, mainly by soldiers in Iraq. It uses actual words of actual soldiers, as taken from the book "In Conflict: Iraq War Veterans Speak Out on Duty, Loss and the Fight to Stay Alive" and the documentary "The Ground Truth," plus blogs and other sources (though names are changed). Dickinson will direct the work.
According to The New York Times, the school's principal, Timothy H. Canty, canceled the play citing problems of political balance and context, saying "he was worried the play might hurt Wilton families 'who had lost loved ones or who had individuals serving as we speak,' and that there was not enough classroom and rehearsal time to ensure it would provide 'a legitimate instructional experience for our students.'"
Thomas B. Mooney, a lawyer for Wilton's board of education, told The New York Times that the students would be allowed to participate in private performances such as the ones scheduled for New York.
The Public's artistic director Oskar Eustis said in a statement, "These young people are using theater to investigate and challenge the world we live in. Their curiosity, courage and boldness deserve to be honored and celebrated by all of us who think that theater can change the world. We are proud to offer the Public as a platform for their passion and talent." The students have received a "Courage in Theater" award from Music Theater International, a New York agency that licenses shows for high school productions. The Dramatists Guild of America and the National Coalition Against Censorship formally called for the school district to allow the play to go on.
Tickets for Voices in Conflict are free. A very limited number of tickets will be available starting May 20. All tickets must be reserved by calling 212-967-7555 or by visiting the Public Theater box office at 425 Lafayette Street in Manhattan.