CBS- A banner promoting the play “Romeo & Juliet” has been taken down after some parents of students at Westlake High School shared concerns over the use of a Confederate flag.
Parents Sedrick Blount and Angelina Sanchez couldn’t believe the school allowed the Confederate flag to be used in a banner. They were told the flag represented the theme “Romeo & Juliet” post-Civil war.
“That represents hatred, racism and just pure evil,” Blount said, while Sanchez said: “The Confederate flag is just not a good advertisement.”
“It can leave a confusing message to children who are vulnerable. It’s like, ‘What are we saying to them?’ ” Sanchez said.
But Stella Mandell, who came to see her niece perform in the play, said they banner was symbolic of what the play was about.
“I’m just looking at it from an artistic point of view because we are supporting the arts. This is symbolic of what the play is about. Bottom line,” she said.
There are two reasons to use offensive symbolism in theater. The first is for artistic integrity. For instance, in 'D'jango: Unchained', the common use of the 'N' word was used to portray the culture of the region at the time. The other reason is to get people interested in something that is not all that interesting. The only thing people enjoy doing more than loving something is hating it. Safe to say the use of a confederate flag is more of the latter that the former.
You know why a high school would use the likeness of a flag that represents decades upon decades of discrimination? Most likely because it is far more interesting than not doing so. I'm sure it somehow fit into the time period of the play, but I wouldn't consider a racially insensitive prop necessary to a depiction of the greatest love story ever told. The fact is, there are exactly zero things that are interesting about high school plays. They generally consist of two decent actors or actresses and a host of people muttering their way to another credential on the college application. How do you make sure 95% of the audience isn't looking at the back of their eyelids by the first intermission? Throw a huge source of controversy up as the back drop. That's one way to look past Billy bungling his lines as the 3rd lead. Can't not pay attention when the existence of a confederate flag gives you the faintest bit of hope that a high school play might actually execute a meaningful message. It's not about needing controversy to perform a decent play, it's about needing controversy to make people think you might perform a decent play. We are talking about high school students. Getting them in the door and keeping them awake is considered a success.