Howard Sherman, who once upon a time held major posts at three Connecticut theater institutions, now watches the landscape like a protective mother hawk, wary of incursions upon artistic freedom, especially in American high schools.
This week his raptor head swiveled toward Enfield, where some kind of parental pressure group appears to have muscled out a high school production of “American Idiot,” the Green Day musical. Sherman even got Billy Joe Armstrong himself to enter a plea on behalf of the show, although Armstrong’s communication muddies the question of whether the high school was planning a version of of the script custom-modified by the faculty director or the toned-down “high school version” which apparently already exists for just this kind of use. [Added thought: that very inconsistency makes me wonder if there’s some other version of this story, but Sherman has not been able to pry it out of the school leaders so far.]
No matter. The theater group seems to have folded its cards.
What remains is the question: why is it always Enfield? In 2011, the town made national news when its politicians forced the cancellation of a library showing of Michael Moore’s documentary about American health care. From 2010 to 2012, the town, um, made national news and engaged in a protracted battle with civil rights groups suing over Enfield’s practice of holding its public high school graduation ceremony in a Bloomfield church. The case was settled when the town agreed to stop using the church.
So is Enfield some kind of undeclared First Amendment laboratory?
Those who read Sherman’s story may notice a sly little dig from Armstrong. Enfield High’s team name and symbol are the Raiders, depicted with the face in profile of a First Nations person. You know, because of the way those Indians used to raid all the time. [UPDATE: I’m told Armstrong probably wasn’t making a dig. He’s from Oakland. Of course, their Raiders are pirates.]