Ann Arbor Public Schools minimizes use of prop guns in musical

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — The epidemic of gun violence is leading to sensitivity about something that has been normal for generations of theater students. The production of Oklahoma! at Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School is being changed at the last minute to get rid of unnecessary prop guns – after some people apparently voiced concerns.

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education Trustee Jeff Gaynor says just days ago his e-mail inbox suddenly filled up with messages from concerned parents.

“The school board received over forty e-mails complaining about the new directive,” said Gaynor.

He says parents told him the new directive delivered this week from someone at Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School ordered no more prop guns in the musical “Oklahoma!”.

This came as Oklahoma! was about to take the stage on Saturday.

Parents, Gaynor says, wrote voicing concerns about censorship – and warning such changes at the last minute are not simple.

“Props in a play are different than guns in school and the objections were not reasonable,” said Gaynor.

Gaynor says as administrators started talking, they told him they found out a misunderstanding may have led to the directive.

The district shared with 7 Action News an e-mail sent out to the school community. It shared that the Pioneer Theater Guild has elected to eliminate guns that are not central to the plot.

The statement went on to say, “Prop guns will be allowed to be used in the production, with a rimshot sound effect from the orchestra for the gunshot.”

“There might be a difference of opinions and different thoughts on the matter, but that is healthy for our democracy,” said Gaynor.

By Kim Russell, Matt Dale