Canceling The School Play Won't Avoid 'Kismet' This week a high school in western Pennsylvania canceled its production of Kismet, citing sensitivity over the Sept. 11 attacks. The musical was adapted from the Arabian Nights; might it not be good for students to learn a lesson about controversy?
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Canceling The School Play Won't Avoid 'Kismet'

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Canceling The School Play Won't Avoid 'Kismet'

Canceling The School Play Won't Avoid 'Kismet'

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SCOTT SIMON, Host:

But I wonder if it might not be good for students to learn how "Kismet" can rile some people as much as David Mamet. As Sir Ben Kingsley says, theater is seeing strangers onstage and recognizing yourself. Howard Sherman of the American Theater Wing says complaints about high school productions are increasing. It's not always about profanity, nudity or politics. Trying to have theater without carping and criticism is like trying to play baseball without getting clipped by the ball now and then. An occasional bruise means you're playing the game with heart. The Johnstown students will perform "Oklahoma!" instead. "Oklahoma!" is a great musical. But does the school district know that one of the signature characters is a peddler who comes to the Oklahoma territory of gushers and sodbusters to find freedom and his own fortune? He's from Persia. His name is Ali Hakim. I wonder if the Johnstown students will have to rename him Al.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STRANGER IN PARADISE")

RICHARD KILEY: (Singing) Take my hand, I'm a stranger in paradise. All lost in a wonderland, oh, stranger in paradise. If I stand starry-eyed, that's a danger in paradise...

SIMON: Richard Kiley of the original "Kismet." This is NPR News.

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