Tiverton High School recently made high school theater history by being the first group to perform HAIR: The American Tribal Lock Rock Musical. We had over 700 people attend with rave reviews.
This sent the former NBC10 “wingman” Justin Katz into a Twitter tizzy. Without seeing the show, he began to condemn it, me and the students and parents involved. He then went further and wrote an article – again, without seeing the show – on the Ocean State Current, referring to the production as “promoting child pornography”, “promoting the use of drugs” and encouraging children to use drugs.
For the record, Tams-Witmark allowed us permission to do the show with the creative challenges necessary to invite an audience in and not offend. I was supported by the administration, the district and the many parents involved throughout the process.
To top off his always extreme behavior, he allegedly sneaked into the Saturday evening performance – without paying, mind you! It is reported he then whipped out his laptop to secretly record the students. Did curiosity really get to Katz?? He took to Twitter again to brag he had finally seen the show…and still found it “inappropriate.” I have no idea what Mr. Katz intends to do with the images and video he allegedly recorded, but as a parent this concerns me greatly. [UPDATE: Katz says he did not sneak into the performance. He said watched the show at home via the internet.]
This is not the first time Katz has gone after me and the work I do in the community of Tiverton and throughout the state. Previously, he warned parents to keep their children away from me and my creative mind set! Mike Stenhouse, who runs the Ocean State Current has been formally warned in the past to keep Mr. Katz from slanderous attacks, which obviously is not working.
I am a single parent. I work with families who look towards the arts as a way to offer their children an outlet for arts enrichment and extended education. Katz has gone too far this time. His Koch brother funded “writings” will not save him. For someone who gives the Eucharist on Sundays, what the heck was he doing in a dark theater, recording students in the very show he was condemning and demanding be stopped!!??
Mr. Katz owes a formal apology to my students, to my administration, to my town. Most importantly, he owes an apology to the hundreds of parents I work with and trust me and my integrity. For that matter, Mike Stenhouse and Ocean State Current owe an apology as well. Can’t Stenhouse keep Katz in line?? It is one thing to have an opinion, it is quite another to think your opinion actually counts as the final word. It should be noted, I have been contacted by Mike Stenhouse after he got wind of my concerns and stated my concerns about Justin amounted to slander and he was “prepared to contact our attorneys.” Perhaps Stenhouse would like to see the Twitter feeds Katz had with several students- all minors. In the article Mr. Katz wrote for The Current, he admitted he spent a summer memorizing the album. Obviously things have changed, or perhaps he secretly wanted to be in the show?
The lesson for my students extended far beyond the understanding of an era in history. My students were given an ideal situation to see how fear and loathing tried to get in the way of art unfolding.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated to allow Justin Katz to respond to the allegation that he sneaked into the play.