More importantly, however, I need to clarify the reasons that our school’s principal, Emilio Urioste, told me we could not do “The Laramie Project” for the spring play.
If he did actually tell Virgil Mitchell that we couldn’t do the play because of scheduling issues, I have to ask why Urioste let us put on “Romeo and Juliet” during the same exact block of time that I originally asked to stage “The Laramie Project.”
The reasons that Urioste actually gave me are quite different from what he has been telling the media.
When I initially set up a meeting with him to discuss “The Laramie Project,” the first thing he asked me was why I would want to do this play, being that it sounded “like a downer.”
He then implored me to direct a musical, even though it would have coincided with our choir’s busy competition schedule. After I told him that North Hollywood High had just staged “The Laramie Project” without incident, Urioste told me he would think about it over winter break.
When I approached him on the Monday following the break, he somewhat angrily told me that he had read a Boston Globe article about a protest of the play, and that if we did the play here in Burbank it “would tear the community apart.” I remember him saying this phrase quite vividly.
In a more recent meeting that I had with Urioste, prior to the one where he relieved me of my drama teacher position, he had told me that he was going to put an end to the “activist theater” that I was bent on staging. He was specifically referring to my production of “Romeo and Juliet,” a play that he did not actually attend.
He also told me that the plays that I put on from that point on have to be appropriate for 7-year-olds.
I know that this question about whether Urioste actually told me that “The Laramie Project” would “tear the community apart” comes down essentially to his word against mine.
SCOTT BAILEY is a Los Feliz resident and a teacher at John Burroughs High School.