Students efforts to reverse administration's decision on 'RENT' gaining momentum
What started earlier this week as an effort by Trumbull High School’s Thespian Society to reverse the administration’s decision on the musical RENT, is now gaining momentum and support from parents, community members, alumni and people from around the country.
According to a Facebook page set up Tuesday called “Trumbull for RENT” the administration told the school’s theater department to nix plans for a school edition of the musical RENT, due to what they called “sensitive” and “controversial” topics. The Trumbull Thespians are hoping they can get that decision reversed and go forward with the production in the spring.
In less than 24-hours, the Facebook page has 1,862 likes. Find the page at facebook.com/THSforRENT
RENT is a show that discusses themes of homosexuality, drug use and AIDS.
“Art is meant to explore the passions and struggles of our modern society,” the group’s Facebook pages reads. “The students at Trumbull High want to make a statement of saying that our generation will not discriminate against people based on sexual orientation, that drugs can ruin people’s lives, as they do for many characters in the show, and that we want to make an impact on the society we live in.”
Larissa Mark, president of the school’s Thespian Society is also circulating a petition at school in support of the play. Larissa asked that her classmates challenge this decision in a respectful way.
“We will get nowhere in our campaign if we act confrontationally and forcefully on this topic,” Larissa wrote in a letter to students and the community. “We should not scream, fight or in any way threaten the administration for making a very hard decision. Our goal should be to respectfully show that we are upset and do believe that RENT could be a very successful show for Trumbull High School.
“If you see Mr. Guarino please tell him something to the effect that we understand RENT is a scary endeavor, but that we please ask him to reconsider,” Larissa wrote.
Larissa is also circulating a link to Trumbull residents, asking their opinion on the production. You can find the survey here: http://bit.ly/1iNeEEd.
Parent Ellen Satter forwarded the Times a copy of a letter she sent to Trumbull Principal Marc Guarino this week, sharing her dismay in his decision.
“One only has to look at past years’ nominations to the Connecticut High School Musical Theater Awards to see that this show has been performed in many of our state’s high schools in recent years,” Satter writes. “The show is challenging from a vocal and an acting standpoint and as such, our students were excited to be performing in this show. Yes, the subject matter is mature, but the language has been cleaned up in the school edition of the play.”
Satter said the play can be used as an educational tool, to explore the difficult themes.
Ben McCormack, a Trumbull High graduate, now working as a composer, pianist and singer, also spoke of his support of the theater group. See his full letter here.
“The community does benefit from these shows, but even more importantly, the performers do,” McCormick said. “These shows are chapters, not pages, in our lives, and they account for many of the friends we make and keep year to year as well as many of the communication skills we naturally acquire as we perform.”
The topic is abuzz on social media. Local elected officials, like Planning and Zoning Commissioner Fred Garrity Jr., also chimed in on Facebook.
“I strongly encourage all my Trumbull friends to support and Like this FB page to support the Trumbull High School students petition to reverse the Admin's not allowing the student and faculty’s planned performance of Rent Trumbull For RENT,” Garrity wrote. “This suppression is about to go national.”
The Times has contacted the Trumbull High administration and will update this story as more information becomes available.