Is Something Rotten Appropriate For School?

“God, I hate Shakespeare”, a claim that describes how most of the students are feeling when they are learning about Macbeth and Hamlet, was said by Nick Bottom, played by Griffin Arnold ’22. Something Rotten launched successfully on Friday, Nov 5, 2021, in Knight Fine Arts Center at Western Reserve Academy. The fall musical certainly broke the silent, serious cloud that is shrouding the campus, and brought some laughter to the school community in the coldness of November.

Something Rotten tells the story of Nick Bottom, a struggling playwright trying to write a play that is greater than William Shakespeare’s. With the help of Nigel Bottom (Nick’s brother) and the soothsayer Thomas Nostradamus, Nick writes the world’s first musical “Omelet”, and thus the musical became a performance form in the theater.

The success of the musical is certainly gratifying for the cast members and the production crew. However, some of the audience raised the questions of whether the context of Something Rotten is appropriate for a school community like WRA.

“It was funny to watch the actors and actresses implying about human genitals and masturbation on the stage, but when I saw two children sitting in front of me looking all confused, these jokes became less funny to me.” says an anonymous audience member.

Indeed, there were some sexually suggestive contexts included in the musical, and many people believe that these are the humor and charm of Something Rotten. It is important to note that this musical was not only facing the students and faculty who understand the jokes, but also towards the other community members which include children who have no idea what these jokes are about. The implications were too mature for them to understand and hear.

This musical did not have an educational purpose for the children to learn about genitals and self-pleasure. Before the children accurately gain an understanding of these concepts and topics, the context of Something Rotten is putting them at risk of misinterpreting some adult content.
There are many movies that are PG-13 because the content of the film includes some rating components such as inappropriate language, substance abuse, etc. that are inappropriate for pre-teenage children to watch.

Society has the obligation to protect children from the information they are receiving, and some censorship is necessary, like the different ratings for films, clean versions of music. I believe theater productions should not be an exception, some modifications are needed considering the audience for this musical are not only (young) adults but also children in elementary school. These innocent children have not been exposed to the adult world of sex and substance abuse, and the first time they are should not be in a joking way. There should at least have been a warning beforehand.

Katheryna Du ’22

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