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Wisconsin school district cancels production of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' on opening night

Posted at 10:59 PM, Oct 11, 2018

SHOREWOOD, Wisc. — Just hours before opening night, Shorewood High School canceled the play 'To Kill a Mockingbird.'

"Due to concerns regarding potential protests related to the production, we've concluded that the safest option is to cancel the play," a statement from Shorewood School District superintendent Bryan Davis read.

Patience Phillips said her three children spoke out against the play.

"They protested the use of the word in the play," Phillips said.

It's the use of the N-word that is said by different actors in the play.

"The fact that word came out of their mouth multiple times," said a sophomore protestor who did not want to be named. "It sat with me differently. It felt weird." 

"When you have students of color telling you they are not comfortable with the word, that's a problem,"  Phillips said. 

The play is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee. The students in the cast say the word is important.

"Us doing the show without the word, we felt like we couldn't really tell the story," a cast member named ZeZe said.

"And when using that word we were really trying to be considerate and telling them this is not something to hurt you," another castmember, Nimya, said. "I'm in show, I'm black and I'm not getting offended but I guess that still wasn't clear."

Both sides say they did not want to see it come to this.

"We never asked for the play to be canceled," Phillips said.

"It's an issue that needs to be talked about everywhere and the fact that it's being canceled, what message is that sending,"  Zeze said.

Both the students and the protestors are wondering if the play was chosen back in June, why did it take until opening night for the school district to address it.

"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," a statement from the school district said.