Peer Testimonies

“In 2018 and 2019, when I was a student at CMS, I saw the musicals Hairspray and Guys and Dolls at EPHS,. I was so captivated and knew then I wanted to be a part of the drama community when I got to high school. I honestly didn’t think that there might be some issues behind the scenes. When I was cast in the musical this year, I was so excited. However, I didn’t look closely enough at the portions of the show that were seen by others as problematic and culturally inappropriate. It was not until the cast, tech, and pit had a discussion with our directors about what students were uncomfortable within the show as written that I saw how many alterations needed to be made. I became aware of how frustrated some of my peers were that have had similar discussions before. I remember during this discussion that I felt disappointed at some of the insensitive comments being made. As rehearsals continued, I heard side comments by some of the cast complaining about the changes we made, saying we should not have made these changes. This brought me back to a discussion I was a part of within members of our school district. One of the topics was how each student should experience a supportive, responsive school environment where their social-emotional and academic needs are met by culturally competent staff who reflectively respond to each student’s voice. We had discussions on how to respond to students when they speak up and how to respect each and every culture in our school, not focusing on the majority. This connects to my experiences with equity in the musical because I heard a lot of similarities with people in the show voicing their frustration about cultures that are misrepresented. In our conversation with the directors, I felt a lot of dismissal about a lot of the topics brought up and heard excuses to cover them up. Overall, as a community, I think we need to be more open to listening to others and actually providing change when students ask for it. Not only temporary change, but lasting change so this does not have to happen again.”

-Elizabeth Stephan

“Since ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ was the first musical I’m performing in, I wanted to make the most out of it. And I’m certain that I’m not the only one who thinks of this. We wanted this show to be a success, so with not only the endless amount of dedication and practises, we also took some time to discuss the problems that the original musical had. When we first began our rehearsals, we had the time to watch the original movie. From the beginning, we noticed a lot of problematic themes that were shown throughout the movie. For starters, the original cast of the movie was mainly a white cast, but they were dressed up as people from the Middle East, wearing Egyptian clothing and exaggerated makeup. I also found it unsettling how the only black character is casted to be the Jamaican singer and singing about Jamaican stereotypes, with the song repeating the word, ‘Banana’ countless times. It was irrelevant to the story and the scene. Another problem shown in the movie and in the musical script was the portrayal of sexual assault. In both the movie and the musical, it is portrayed as a comedy. Sexual assault should be treated as a serious matter and should no way be played for laughs. After countless amounts of research, I found that in the bible of Genesis, it was written that Mrs. Potiphar beckoned Joseph to come to bed with her, with Joseph refusing. Causing Mrs. Potiphar to accuse Joseph of sleeping with her. As mentioned, there was no hands-on action between Joseph and Mrs. Potiphar. The sexual assault in both the musical and movie was unnecessary and unethical. Thanks to the discussions we had, the directors and choreographers were able to change certain elements to make the show more comfortable and fitting. I feel satisfied with the progress we have made, and it was thanks to the patience of the cast and tech crew for helping us make this far.”

-Chloe Desierto