Principal calls off third-grade version of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ 48 hours before debut

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The principal at a Seattle elementary school has intervened to put a stop to an abridged third-grade production of Homer’s “Odyssey” after a parent expressed concerns about some language in the play.

Washington’s KIRO Radio has the story.

The unnamed parent took exception to the language in an email to the principal — also unnamed — at TOP K-8 School.

Among the allegedly objectionable phrases in the script was “put you across a log and cut your head off.” The phrase “tar man” was also deemed too blue.

After agreeing that the language was unsuitable for third graders, the principal first requested that the director — also unnamed! — hastily rewrite the play the third graders had been rehearsing.

The director rejected this request, though, and walked off the job. Consequently, some 48 hours before the performance was set to debut, the principal abruptly cancelled the play.

The TOPS principal was left with the task of informing parents and students via email.

The Seattle Public Schools backed the principal’s decision.

“Our job as educators is to make sure that kids are exposed to age appropriate things, and he feels very strongly that this particular script is not appropriate for third graders,” district spokeswoman Teresa Wippel told KIRO Radio.

Since the cancellation, the principal has apparently chosen to allow the show to go after all, but only after he personally revises all the offensive parts of Homer’s epic poem.

“He worked with the kids to rewrite the script, and they’re going to go home and practice their lines. They hope to put (the play) on next week,” Wippel told KIRO.

Not everyone was happy with this compromise.

One parent, Matthew Strako, said his daughter had been pretty disappointed.

“I tried to assure her to keep her hopes up. Even though her school let her down, her father was not going to,” Strako told the radio station.

“I fully agree with the director,” Strako added. “To alter your play for one person’s opinion is not being true to your craft.”

Stories in which school administrators intervene to call off plays in public schools come around with some regularity. The last big play-cancellation kerfuffle occurred in suburban Cincinnati when a high school drama teacher was sacked for staging “Legally Blonde,” the Broadway musical based on the hit movie starring Reese Witherspoon. (RELATED: High school drama teacher loses job after ‘Legally Blonde’ musical deemed too racy)

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