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the fight for freedom (of speech)
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A Local Lens Presentation

Aired Sunday, April 12, at 6:00 p.m. on CPTV

"We were amazed to find ourselves at the center of a censorship debate but suddenly we began receiving supportive messages, including some from soldiers currently serving in Iraq."                                                      Bonnie Dickinson, Wilton High School Drama Teacher.

When Bonnie Dickinson and her drama students at Wilton High School in Connecticut began working on the Voices in Conflict script, she had no idea that it would stir up controversy and put her job in jeopardy. After the school received a complaint from a parent, who thought the play was anti-military, the principal deemed the play “educationally inappropriate,” and the performance was canceled. The story subsequently appeared in the New York Times, and precipitated a media firestorm that launched the play and Wilton into the national spotlight.

Voices in Conflict

To her great surprise Dickinson also received several invitations to perform the play in New York. By the end of its run in July, the 16 young actors, between the ages of 14 and 18, had performed the play at the Vineyard Theatre, Culture Project and the Public Theater, all venerable off-Broadway venues in New York, and at Fairfield Theatre Company in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Hear Bonnie and Andy Gundell, Voices in Conflict musical director and composer on Where We Live with John Dankosky. 

Jay Whitsett, CPTV vice president and station manager, saw the value in broadcasting the play, and approached the group about airing the production to be broadcast on CPTV.

“When you see something this dynamic and rich, and the youth of the state are involved, you want to showcase their abilities,” Whitsett said.

The young cast traveled to Hartford for filming in CPTV's high-definition Chase Family Studio. 

The Music Theatre International awarded Dickinson and her students a “Courage in Theatre Award” for Voices in Conflictthe first such honoring in the organization’s history. Dickinson also became the official “2007 Honoree” of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the winner of the Connecticut Center for First Amendment Rights 2007 “Freedom Award.”

“I’ve been teaching theatre and directing in the Wilton School School District for over 15 years, and the past year has got to be one of the most rewarding of my career on so many levels,” said Dickenson. “We have all learned a lot about what arts education is all about.” Learn more...

Voices in Conflict is part of CPTV’s Local Lens – Producers of the Future initiative.  The initiative is an incubator for emerging independent producers and production companies, as well as seasoned professionals with fresh ideas for new 21stcentury content. As part of the Local Lens project, CPTV will select a limited number of up-and-coming producers to be “Local Lens Producers in Residence,” and provide them with mentoring, training and an opportunity to see their work come alive on CPTV. If you have an original story, a fresh idea or are interested in funding new projects, visit Local Lens.

The Local Lens initiative is made possible with funding from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism.  Funding for this episode comes from Edward and Catherine Romer, Maryellen and Dave Basile, John and Ellen Levinson, Frances K. Dibner and the Christine E. Moser Foundation.




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