The show must go on
I’ll face it with a grin
I’m never giving in
On with the show.
When they were informed on October 21 that their fall production of the play “She Kills Monsters” was canceled by school administrators due to an implied LGBTQ+ identity in the script, Hillsboro High School students, alums, and parents sprang into action.
Far past auditions, well into rehearsals and less than a month away from the show’s premiere, the cast in this southwest Ohio school were unsurprisingly invested in this story of loss, love, and family. Despite administrators claims that the widely-praised and oft-produced play is “inappropriate for our K-12 audience,” cast members and their families were determined that the show needed to go on and a plan quickly emerged.
“While the play is no longer sponsored by the school, we are planning to perform the show in the summertime as a community theatre project with a different venue,” said Zebadiah Pickering-Polstra, a Hillsboro alum and brother to two members of the cast.
With a goal of $5,000, a crowd source funding campaign was created to raise the money necessary to stage “She Kills Monsters” outside of the school’s oversight. Though it was a lofty financial target, Pickering-Polstra was clear about the motivation.
“These kids, my siblings included, have poured their heart and soul into this show. We want to see their aspirations realized,” he said.
Then the news of the show’s cancelation broke worldwide, with the story of a “high school play canceled for gay content” being picked up by dozens of major news outlets, including NBC News, LGBTQ Nation, and Upworthy.
As word spread, donations started pouring in.
Now only a few weeks after they established that $5,000 goal, the campaign has amassed nearly 5x that amount with a current tally of $23,115. In addition to the funds, messages of support were posted from all over the country, including from cast members of previous productions of “She Kills Monsters.”
Laura Pickering-Polstra, the mother of Zebediah and two of the cast members, posted an update in the fundraising campaign to address some of the school administrators’ claims:
To set the record straight, the homophobic slurs had already been removed from the script by the directors before the Oct 18th parent meeting, which I attended. The sword-fighting wasn’t “graphic violence”. It’s stage combat, not actual bloodshed. The sexual innuendo wasn’t anything that hadn’t been seen on an HHS stage in the past, in shows such as “Les Mis”, “Into the Woods”, “Oklahoma!”, and “Light in the Piazza”. The profanity was “ass”, “hell”, and “damn”. These words have been heard before in HHS plays (see above shows + “Clue”). It is true that the character being gay was an issue, as it was mentioned during the parent meeting by the pastor and the parents who invited him.
With more than enough funds to mount a production, “She Kills Monsters” will indeed be staged in Hillsboro, even as Laura Pickering-Polstra highlights that the message being delivered here is far bigger than this one show being produced.
“You all have allowed us to turn a painful, unfair situation into one filled with hope and joy,” she said. “You have shown our LGBTQ+ youth, including one of my own, that they deserve to be heard and seen. As a mom, I thank you for that.” 🔥
- The “She Kills Monsters” GoFundMe is still accepting donations here.