Local News Brief: Community supports Amherst Regional High School's controversial decision to perfor
The idea for performing “The Vagina Monologues” came directly from students, according to Kate Collins, a faculty advisor of the show. “It was completely student initiated,” said Collins. Collins believes that the show is an especially good choice because it raises issues central to the students performing and attending it. “[The play] raises issues that are very important to [students] and that are relevant to many of their lives,” she said.
ARHS has attempted to put on other controversial plays in the past. In 1999, ARHS planned to produce the musical “West Side Story.” However, amidst a great deal of controversy within the school district, the play was cancelled. “That was due to great decisiveness within the school. It was the director’s choice to cancel,” said Collins.
The school’s production of “The Vagina Monologues” initially received a lot of similar criticism, particularly because some would deem the content of the monologues, which depict women’s embracing and accepting their bodies in an attempt to oppose domestic violence, inappropriate for high school students. However, Collins said that public opinion on the play has since changed. “[The play] has been very well received by the student population,” she said.
The school has taken precautions to prevent minors from seeing the play without their parents’ approval. “To get tickets [minors] needed their parents to sign a permission slip and then the parents received a confirmation call just to be sure,” said Collins.
Tickets for performances, on sale at Food for Thought Books, sold out. Matthew King, a collective owner of the store, believes that the controversy surrounding the play did not stop people from purchasing tickets, and may even have increased interest. “We got 200 tickets on Thursday afternoon. By Thursday night they were all gone,” he said. King said he thinks that the controversy created solidarity within the community. “A lot of people want to support students,” he said. “The controversy brought a lot more people out to buy tickets and support the students.”
Mitch Gaslin, a collective owner of Food for Thought Books, also noticed the great volume of people clamoring to get tickets for the play. “We certainly have sold a lot of tickets,” he said. “Probably because it is a subject matter that is important to people around here. The publicity has only made people want to see it more.”