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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Arcadia Weekly / “RENT” Control Hits Monrovia High School

“RENT” Control Hits Monrovia High School

by Terry Miller
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Rent Control Hits MUSD

The old saying “The whole world’s a stage” has taken on a whole new meaning in Monrovia.
Arcadia High School Drama Teacher, Steven Volpe, says the decision by Monrovia’s Superintendent of Education, Linda Wagner, to prohibit production of RENT “is ridiculous”!
At 4:50 PM Monrovia High School Principal issued the following statement:
“As Principal of Monrovia High School, and in response to the controversy that has arisen over the production of the play “Rent”, drama teacher Marc Segal and I have agreed to release this joint statement with regard to the future of plays and musicals that will be produced at our school – Monrovia High School
We plan to develop a strategy to assist us in making decisions based on a common philosophy for high school drama productions that fosters student interest in the arts commencing in the middle school years and continuing into high school. In the coming days, we will be crafting an agreed upon process that focuses on family-friendly content that would enhance learning and stimulate the intellectual growth of our students. The Monrovia Unified School District and Monrovia High School strive to provide an environment in which all students thrive, and to that end we will collaboratively work together to ensure we achieve our goals.
The Board, District, community and administration have supported the arts at Monrovia High School for many years. Most recently, the auditorium has received over one million dollars in renovations. These renovations were in an effort to allow for phenomenal plays and musicals for years to come. Marc Segal is a passionate, talented director and our students are fine actors. The combination of these factors will allow students to grow in their acting abilities.
We will make no further comments on this issue as we wish to return to the business of educating our students and ensuring that they can become contributing members of society.”
Darvin Jackson, Principal

Steven Volpe says the school district’s decision to ban the play “is absolutely and utterly ridiculous”. The play is about “understanding each other and how we can live with one another with our differences.”
“Rent is a wonderful play, yes it has some ‘dark scenes’ but so do Shakespeare and countless other plays.” Volpe added that he truly believes that homophobia is playing a significant role in the executive decision to ban RENT.
The latest in a series of community outrage on the decision to ban the play RENT from being performed at the High School has caused some in the education business to question Superintendent Linda Wagner’s decision to opt for more “ Family Friendly:” plays at the High School Level.
Steven Volpe, Arcadia High School’s Advanced Drama teacher said “ Theatre is Life” in a telephone Interview with Beacon Media Monday afternoon. He went on to say that the rock opera (RENT) is a complex play modeled on Puccini’s “La Boheme,” Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” which depicts the lives of struggling artists – some of the characters are gay and lesbian – in lower-east-side Manhattan at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s.
Steven Volpe believes that he would have put the play on at Arcadia High School without the surrounding controversy and prohibitions. “I took my students to a production last year in Fullerton : The play was RENT! It was incredible and the students learned a great deal of the human emotion involved in this difficult and complex issue Volpe asserted.
“Do they ( Monrovia Schools ) want their High School drama students to produce only things like Peter Pan?” “Family Friendly is not serving the kids or the community…” he said.
Monrovia High School drama teacher Marc Segal – who was hoping to stage a somewhat toned down version – met with the district’s superintendent, Linda Wagner to discuss the issue in December and the decision was made not to produce the play.
Segal was not available for comment on Monday.
The first to mention the controversy was a former Pasadena Star News reporter, Nathan McIntyre who now edits a local website for AOL called Monrovia Patch.
Social media sites and The Los Angeles Times picked up the ball and rolled with it. The controversy continues on print and on line.

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