Ten elementary school performances of a play about two male penguins raising a hatchling together have been canceled by the Austin school district over concerns about "age appropriateness."
And Then Came Tango, an original work by University of Texas at Austin graduate theater student Emily Freeman, tells the true story of Roy and Silo, a pair of male Chinstrap Penguins who hatched and raised a chick named Tango at New York's Central Park Zoo.
"Throughout the play, the definition of family is extended beyond normative representations," Freeman said in a press release. "Family is an entire colony of penguins, a young girl and her single mom, a zookeeper and the animals he tends, and two male penguins and their adopted egg. As these family structures are threatened in the play, we learn the power of voicing your opinions and standing up for your beliefs, no matter how old you are."
The Austin school district, which regularly allows UT students satisfy degree requirements by performing their plays at local elementary schools, had never before banned a UT play.
"The subject matter communicated in the play is a topic that Austin ISD believes should be examined by parents/guardians who will discuss with their elementary school age children at a time deemed appropriate by the parents/guardians," the district's fine arts direct, Greg Goodman, told UT's youth theater program head, Coleman Jennings.
Despite the hurdles, Freeman is taking a page from her own play, and standing up for her beliefs.
With assistance from area schools and advocacy groups, the playwright is putting on free performances of Tango at the Oscar G. Brockett Theatre between November 30th and December 2nd.