Wisconsin high school cancels production of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

SHOREWOOD (WISN) — A Milwaukee area high school has canceled its production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The “N” word comes up in the novel and movie versions of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” but after mounting criticism and debate among parents and Shorewood community members about its use on stage, the district canceled all three productions.

Shorewood High School Thursday afternoon released the following statement:

“The Shorewood Drama production of To Kill a Mockingbird has been cancelled for all three nights of production (October 11,12, and 13). Due to concerns regarding potential protests related to the production, we’ve concluded that the safest option is to cancel the play. The District should have done more outreach to engage in dialogue about the sensitivity of this performance with the Shorewood and greater Milwaukee community. Moving forward, the District will continue to encourage staff and students to engage in meaningful performances surrounding contemporary issues with the appropriate amount of outreach and dialogue.”

Parents and students who wanted the word taken out of the play spoke to WISN 12 News on Thursday about the issue.

“The Caucasian students that are in the play, I can’t imagine the discomfort of using that word,” said one mother who wished to remain anonymous. “I’ve heard that during practices, [Caucasian students] actually apologized to the African American students. Why even put them in that position?”

“As soon as I heard it, I was very shocked” said one Shorewood High School senior. “Whether it’s in a play or not, it is a term that a lot of people feel shouldn’t be used and I feel shouldn’t be used.”

However, when asked if they were happy with the district’s decision, community members said the superintendent made the wrong call.

“It could have been something as simple as changing the word to negro. You still get the same affect, but it doesn’t have the connotation that the “N” word has,” said Tomika Vukovic, a Shorewood High School 1989 alum.

“Now they want to play the victim. They could have changed those words, had a dialogue either before or after. They could have even done a pregnant pause instead of using the word and the kids who worked so hard on the production could have still done the production, could have still made money for their school,” said Vukovic “[The district] would rather be right and dig in, than do what’s right.”

Our Milwaukee affiliate, WISN 12 News, reached out to the Shorewood superintendent, high school principal, high school drama director and multiple school board members. No one returned our requests for comment.

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