Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Heidi Kling Speaks Out
Today's post is from Heidi Kling. Her debut novel Sea came out this past June and has caused readers around the world to have #sealove. She grew up living all over California and ended up at UCA Santa Cruz. She's also lived in NYC but now lives in Northern California with her husband and son. Here is her post:
Censorship was first brought to my attention when the play I auditioned for, senior year of high school, was shut down because a parent (who incidentally hadn't read through the play) complained about its content to the principal. Up to then, I'd experienced bouts of censorship but they all came from my parents. But this. This was something I wasn't used to. This happening at school.
I went to high school in a very conservative town (another thing I really didn't realize at the time) but a play, that we'd already auditioned for and cast, was shut down because of ONE parents complained about content she hadn't bothered to READ? (Her complaint came from a bit of text from audition sheets.)
This was just too much.
Our teacher fought it, and lost. And when he lost the fight, we lost too.
Lost out on performing what would have been a fun-filled, and hilarious spring show.
We all fretted, "Is the spring show cancelled for good?" "Will our teacher be fired?" "What's going to happen now?" What happened was something brilliant.
He decided to put on the show Fahrenheit 451. A play about censorship. A play about a futuristic society where people are so afraid of knowledge they burn books.
I get shivers now thinking about it, that move, that genius form of protest. We auditioned again, with this exciting, and very dramatic material, and proceeded to put on this brilliant play in a tiny conservative town. And it changed everything about my path in my life. The undercurrent zipping through all of our rehearsals was this protest. We all knew what happened. We all wondered if the principal would come, if this complaining mother would come, if our performance would give them pause to think about their previous decision.
Who knows if I wasn't cast as Clarisse, the free-spirited girl who questions everything about fireman Montag's world, would I have pursued the arts to such a degree? If that one mother hadn't complained would I have started my own children's theatre that pushed boundaries on art, would I be a published author myself dedicated to telling stories I think are important? Maybe not.
So complain on, censors. All it does is draw more attention to brilliant stories and sell more books.
And even better than that? Your complaints light fires of outrage in the hearts of a whole new generation of thinkers. When threatened by someone —especially someone who hasn't read the story they love — tries to take something their favorite book away?
You better bet they will put up a fight.
"There must be something in books, things we can't imagine, to make a
woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don't
stay for nothing."
- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Part 1