Florida State Thespians is committed to presenting the very best work from high schools across the State of Florida. Florida has a wide diversity of community standards and it should not be the task of the Florida State Thespian Board to set standards for individual schools. The Board does not wish to censor the material which is sent from your school representing your community. To ensure the continued success of Florida State Thespians, the board has established the following:
IN SELECTING MATERIAL AND REGISTERING FOR STATE:
The board wishes to restate its position that the sponsor and student should choose material that they would feel comfortable sharing in front of their peers and their school. The material chosen should match the community standards of your school district and your town! There should NEVER be an attempt to choose material for competition that you would “never be able to do on your own stage.” There is no shortage of prize-winning, world-class drama that would be acceptable in any high school in the state!
To this end, you will find the following statement in the registration for state. Both you, the sponsor, and the principal* or his/her designee are asked to sign the following:
The board requests that you verify that each piece which will be performed representing your school has been screened by the sponsor and endorsed by the principal or his/her designee. We ask you to certify that each piece meets your community standards and the standards set by your school and your school board. We also understand this caveat will not guarantee that all material presented will fit the guidelines of all schools. To that end, we will continue to use the asterisk as a further means of denoting material which might be considered sensitive for some viewers.
*NOTE: In Dade County the teacher, not the principal will be asked to certify that the piece meets community standards.
Florida State Thespians does not pre-approve the material which is presented at this conference. The individual director is the ultimate judge of what is suitable for his/her students to perform for their home school audience. They are also responsible for placing the asterisk on any of their entries which might be questionable in nature. All material performed at this conference has been approved by the principal of the originating school. That approval indicates that he/she attests that the pieces submitted from that school would be suitable for general audience presentation at the school from which it came.
Even with these warnings and precautions, we realize that some of the more mature material may trouble some of our audience. We have endeavored to forewarn by the use of the asterisk and, at the Closing Ceremony, by identifying edgy material prior to its presentation. Should any member of our audience be offended by any performance, we encourage them to voice their concern to the State Director who has been directed by the State Thespian Board to forward those letters of complaint to the administrator involved. The administrator who approved the material in the first place is the person who should be able to defend his/her choice.
We cherish the right to free expression, but we also understand that, as educators, we have a responsibility to use that freedom wisely. We have tried to differentiate between words which might offend and ideas which might make the audience uncomfortable. Theatre, at its highest, may create dissension and make people examine their beliefs. Blasphemy and blatant sexual references are not suited to this conference. We have encouraged everyone to be sensitive to them starting at the district level. Discussion of contemporary issues and problems are the stuff of real theatre and deserve a place on our stages. Community standards differ widely in our state and this is a thorny issue we do not take lightly. As theatre educators, we cannot solve the problems of society by refusing to give a platform where those problems can be examined in an intelligent and forthright manner. We feel giving audience members the opportunity to challenge some of the choices local administrators make will give a greater voice to everyone in our large and extremely diversified audience.