PV Theatre abandons fall play due to political controversy

PV Theatre abandons fall play due to political controversy

Sarah Buttikofer, Staff Editor

(Editors Note: Kyle Towey’s quote, in the first sentence of the article, originally asserted that the issue was regarding the epilogue. Tom Lupfer emailed to clarify that the Donald Trump portion of the production was actually the 45 play, not the epilogue.)

PV Theatre opted to abandon its fall production, “45 Plays for 45 Presidents,” because of “issues regarding the [45 play],” senior cast member Kyle Towey said.

The show received negative feedback “regarding a politically charged portion of the script,” according to an announcement on its website on Wednesday. Towey said that people had a negative response to Donald Trump’s part in the play.

“‘45 Plays for 45 Presidents’ revolves around the stories of each of the 45 presidents of the United States, from George Washington to Donald Trump, and Donald Trump [is someone] that is very difficult to talk about objectively [right] now,” Towey said. “I guess the way that Trump was portrayed, either through the opinions or the facts that were stated, must have set people off.”

PV Theatre is now tasked with selecting a new fall play, which will be virtually streamed Nov. 19 through Nov. 21.

“The production staff is selecting a new play currently and will announce the title once performance rights and permissions have been obtained,” Director and Producer Tom Lupfer said in an email.

The announcement on the website stated “that a play with any political content could not fulfill our mission of producing work that moves our students and audiences… We will continue to strive to create work that brings us all together to experience live performance and celebrate the wonderful work of our talented, dedicated PV Theatre students.”

Multiple cast members declined to comment on Wednesday, saying that they did not feel comfortable speaking on the topic at that time.

Lupfer referred all questions about the cancellation of the play to Principal Glenn deMarrais. DeMarrais said in an email that after hearing concerns from the community, the play directors (Lupfer and his wife, Merielle) took a closer look at the script and decided, in the best interest of the theater program, to change the show.

“I applaud [the directors’] professional approach and I believe their statement is a testimony to not only their commitment to the program and the community, but their appreciation for the circumstances and sensitivity of the current pre-election climate,” DeMarrais said in an email.

Towey said that he believes that the feedback came from parents within the PV community.

“It’s probably best if it is left anonymous because that way, there is no blaming,” Towey said. “We try to be a more unified community within the theater, rather than clawing at each other.”

Towey was cast as President John Adams, President James Polk, President Richard Nixon, and President Ulysses S. Grant. Towey said that PV Theatre had only been working on the first half of the show and who was to play Trump is not known.

“[The directors] picked this show because it was something that we could do, given our circumstances, and it was something that we could resonate with a lot of roles,” Towey said. “I don’t know if they anticipated the reaction that they might have or might not have gotten from parents. I think that it was a tough call for [the directors] to make, but I feel like they had the best interests of the community, whether or not they were happy about it personally.”

Towey said that the cancellation happened so quickly and the announcement was made Wednesday at what was supposed to be the second half of the run-through.

“You are bound to run into certain situations like this, and I don’t think that it should have been such a huge issue, personally,” Towey said. “Though, I don’t blame anyone for thinking so – we are all entitled to our own political beliefs.”

“I think we all need something light and happy right now,” sophomore cast member Kelly Donlan added.

Towey is grateful to still have a play to participate in, unlike in the spring when the show was canceled due to coronavirus concerns.

“We were lucky, very, very lucky that this was at the very beginning of our show, rather than really late in it, like last time,” he said. “Fortunately, the situation could be worse. I am just happy to go along with whatever is happening.”