CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. - The playwright of one of the most performed plays in high schools across the country defended his storyline Thursday after learning a performance was cancelled at a Catawba County high school.
"Almost, Maine" is a romantic comedy that tells multiple love stories, including one between two men.
Channel 9 reported Tuesday when Maiden High School opted to cancel the performance.
Students believe the decision had to do with the same-sex characters. They have since started an online petition in hopes the school will change its decision.
Principal Rob Bliss released a statement Tuesday to explain his stance on the matter.
It read in part, “The play contained sexually explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendoes that are not aligned with our mission and educational objectives.”
The decision quickly reached a producer and the playwright of Almost, Maine, who then reached out to Channel 9.
Playwright John Cariani spoke with Eyewitness News reporter Alexa Ashwell from his home in New York City Thursday.
“I believe the play is about love, not sexual love,” said Cariani, during an interview on Skype. “The scene with the two young men has no reference to sex at all.”
Cariani went on to explain in the scene two young men are complaining about dates they had been on with a woman. Later in the script the two men realize they have fallen in love with one another.
“The two young men literally fall to the ground after this realization and that’s the end of the scene,” said Cariani.
Cariani told Channel 9 this isn’t the first time a school has questioned his play or requested to leave out the scene involving the two men.
He said in some cases he has allowed a school to not show this part of the play but required each patron receive a written copy of the scene at the performance.
“I just think there is a solution other than canceling the production,” said Cariani. “I’ve reached out to the teacher who applied for rights to the play, but I haven’t heard back. I don’t think the students should have to suffer. They had already purchased the play and started rehearsing for it.”
Channel 9 reached out to Principal Bliss Thursday and was referred to the district’s superintendent for additional comment. A message was not returned when this story aired.