Saturday, November 12, 2011

Foul Play? Fair Play? Great Plays

A friend sent me this note (redacted just slightly for privacy):
Hi Ruth,
Not sure if you are interested in this kind of stuff - sort of the intersection of schools, Ann Arbor society and law.  
[Side note: Are you kidding? The intersection of schools, Ann Arbor society, and law?! I'm always interested!]

On Thursday I put up a couple of extra Into the Woods signs around Forsythe - in part because a few of them had been removed or stolen depending on your point of view. Oddly, Pioneer Theatre Guild signs [for Phantom of the Opera] were not removed.  I also put up one sign in the little island of land by Sunset and Vesper.  Within two hours all of the signs around Forsythe (the Newport side of the school) were removed. As well, the signs in islands on Sunset and on Red Oak, were removed - well at this point we can say - stolen.  I e-mailed Janet Schwamb [Forsythe principal] thinking maybe Forsythe was tired of it all, but she didn't order their removal. [Ed. note: And I'm glad she didn't--after all, Pioneer and Skyline are Ann Arbor schools too!]
There are two theories here. One theory is just that a local individual is sick of the signs. Support for this theory would include the fact that a handmade sign at the Red Oak/Newport light that warns people that that kids are crossing was also taken. As my friend points out:
Of course it is not really up to them to steal them.  These signs seem to be  part of a time honored tradition in Ann Arbor.  Plus they are one of the main methods of publicizing these plays - esp. as we no longer have a local newspaper.

Another theory could be that someone who is still mad that Skyline exists (a sentiment I have heard many times, but most frequently from Pioneer students and parents) feels that it is okay to sabotage the Skyline performance. Support for this theory would include the fact that the Skyline signs were taken but not the Pioneer signs.

Honestly, I don't know which it is. Seriously, can't we be pro-Pioneer and pro-Skyline? And pro-Huron and pro-Community?

I hope you will try out some of our local high school theater this week or next. Typically, it's rather stellar--and you don't have to travel to Broadway to see it!

Community High School presents As You Like It
Expect a contemporary take on Shakespeare's As You Like It, Friday and Saturday November 18-19 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday November 20 at 1 p.m.

Huron High School produced The Beaux' Stratagem 
Written by George Farquhar, this Restoration Comedy was first produced at the Haymarket Theatre, London, in March 1707. Archer and Aimwell, two young gentlemen who have fallen on hard times, plan to travel through small towns, entrap young heiresses, steal their money and move on. In the first town, Lichfield, they set their sights on Dorinda. Aimwell falls truly in love, and comedy ensues. Unfortunately tonight was the last performance.

Pioneer High School Theatre Guild presents Phantom of the Opera.
This is the longest-running show in Broadway history. With music By Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics by Charles Hart, and book by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber. The Phantom of the Opera is a compelling and heartbreaking love story, of a masked, disfigured man who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it. He falls obsessively in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to making her the Opera’s next great star, leaving death and destruction in his wake. The majestic score includes “Think of Me,” “Music of the Night,” "Masquerade," and its title song. The Phantom of the Opera will captivate your senses and leave you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole show.

Sunday Nov 13th, 2:00 pm is the final performance.

Skyline High School presents Into the Woods
An ambivalent Cinderella? A blood-thirsty Little Red Riding Hood? A Prince Charming with a roving eye? A Witch...who raps? They're all among the cockeyed characters in James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim's fractured fairy tale. When a Baker and his Wife learn they've been cursed with childlessness by the Witch next door, they embark on a quest for the special objects required to break the spell, swindling, lying to and stealing from Cinderella, Little Red, Rapunzel and Jack (the one who climbed the beanstalk). Everyone's wish is granted at the end of Act One, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later, with disastrous results. What begins as a lively irreverent fantasy in the style of The Princess Bride becomes a moving lesson about community responsibility and the stories we tell our children.
One of Sondheim's most popular works, INTO THE WOODS is a timeless yet relevant piece and a rare modern classic.


November 13 @ 2:30 PM
November 18, 19th @ 7:30 PM
November  20 @ 2:30 PM 

For a full schedule of Community, Huron, Pioneer, and Skyline theater plans this year, 
look here


  1. It's not necessarily Pioneer parents. There was a very vocal opposition throughout a segment of Ann Arbor to the mere existence of a new high school, the location of the school, the cost overruns in the building of the school, etc. etc. And these were folks whose kids were already graduated, and in one case I knew had no kids.

  2. True enough. I've heard it the most from Pioneer families, but you might have heard it from others.

    And the vast, vast majority of people don't go around stealing signs just because they don't like something, anyway.

  3. If that's the case, all it says is that politically anti-Skyline people are incredibly immature -- it's a PLAY. Put on by KIDS. Kids who had nothing to do with building Skyline. I hope that is not how people are showing their disapproval. Sheesh.

  4. I don't want to tar all anti-Skyline people with the same brush. I imagine this is the work of one person, who is either a)anti-Skyline or b)anti-sign.

  5. People put signs in the entrance to our subdivision and I have disappeared them myself. The problem is, they never come back to pick them up. If the theater signs were gone that quickly, it must have been a neighbor. On another note, there were several Skyline students in the Pioneer play. Some of them in very key roles. That seems odd. Shouldn't the plays be restricted to the students at that school?

  6. (Most recent) anonymous--I hope you don't disappear those signs until after the event is over. If you take them down before the event, that would make me--and lots of kids and their parents--really sad. Those signs--and political signs too--are part of an important marketplace of ideas.

    Yes, there were several Skyline kids in the Pioneer production of Phantom of the Opera. At the present time, there is no school district rule as to whether or not kids can "cross" to another school to be in a play. There was a proposal that was nearly implemented this year, that would have restricted students at the comprehensive high schools to their school, and (I believe) Community students to the Community program or to their districted school (e.g. if you lived in the Huron district you could only do theater at Huron). The reason it wasn't implemented was a) notification was not given in a timely manner (kids had already auditioned and gotten roles) and b) a segment of Pioneer Theater Guild (which has been the primary beneficiary of kids crossing over) had a major hissy fit. In fact, I heard through the grapevine that some parents threatened to hire lawyers...I don't know if that is true.

    The end result is that a policy is under development/consideration for implementation next year, and I think that it will likely be something similar to what was proposed this year.

    I'm not sure what it will mean for Pioneer's Future Stars event, which is a fun talent show (American Idol-esque), billed as an all-district event (and does draw some kids from the other schools) but the expense and the income--lots of income--accrues to Pioneer Theater I'm not sure the idea of rotating the Future Stars show from school to school year by year would go over very well.

  7. Well, as the veteran of a number of school campaigns, I can tell you that the City of Ann Arbor is singularly committed to taking down signs that are on city land, including the so-called "extension" between the sidewalk and street. Is that where these signs were? I wish they would simply take them down and toss them on the lawn, but they throw them away....

  8. I believe they were at a few different spots: 1) school property (Forsythe) and 2) islands in the street at both ends of Vesper.