Well I’ve seen quite a few blunders in my time, but this one really jumps out at me.
For those who aren’t aware, Mogadishu is a play by Vivienne Franzmann, herself a former teacher, in which a white teacher attempts to prevent a black student from being expelled after pushing the teacher to the ground. Well this all seems fine, so what’s the problem you may ask …
Well the problem is there are a lot more themes in this play than simply school. The F word is said a reported 218 times, and the play also features violence, self-harm and suicide. Not exactly suitable for teenagers in any school.
Well, parents of children at Teddington School in West London were outraged when they found out that their children were actually studying this play for their Drama GCSE! One mother, Gerardine Stockford, says: “It beggars belief. It is completely unsuitable for young teenagers.”
Mrs Stockford, a former social worker, said that her daughter had studied the play from last Spring until Christmas. She said: “I’m no prude but this play was absolutely saturated with swearing. I counted almost 400 expletives. On top of that the play deals with some very dark themes and includes racist, sexist and homophobic language. I think it is very irresponsible of the school to teach this kind of material to a class full of 14-year-olds.”
Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said yesterday: “Mogadishu’s excessive use of foul language and its treatment of such themes as racism, bullying, violence, self-harm and suicide may prove profoundly disturbing to some youngsters.”
Jeremy Law, Teddington’s acting head, said: “The play deals with a lot of challenging contemporary themes and asks the audience to challenge and judge the values and behaviour of the protagonists. The responses from our students were very mature, thoughtful and well considered. Students allowed themselves to be moved by its themes rather than be hung up on the sometimes gritty vernacular.” Not going to beat around the bush here, I think this acting head might have a few screws loose. It’s one thing taking on contemporary plays instead of simply doing age old plays like Shakespeare, but it does need to be appropriate to the kids, and this one simply isn’t.