Due to concerns that have been raised within the DePauw community, we as a cast want to reach out to you. First, a brief overview of the events that inspired the show:
Jason Robert Brown’s Tony award-winning musical tells the true story of 13-year-old Mary Phagan, who in 1913 was found murdered in the basement of the National Pencil Company in Atlanta, Georgia. The trial that ensued was a disturbing display of corruption by the prosecuting attorney, highlighting the extreme racism and anti-Semitism in the South at the time and ultimately leading to the wrongful conviction of Leo Frank, a northern Jewish man. A glimpse of humanity came when Governor John Slaton changed Leo’s sentence from death to life in prison. This was overshadowed when the “Knights of Mary Phagan,” led by Tom Watson, removed Leo from his cell and lynched him. These events were the catalyst for the rebirth of the KKK. Watson would later serve as a U.S. Senator.
This grisly story brings to light a troubling time in American history that still affects our culture. The show forces the audience to take a hard look at our cultural identity as Americans and how these issues plague our society today.
As your friends and peers, we want to assure you that we are working to express the challenging issues in “Parade,” not to sensationalize them. When we step on stage, we are not embodying individual characters that we agree with, but are representing misguided ideals that were, and remain, a stain on our culture. We have implicit confidence in our director and our production team to lead us to a final product that is both powerful and moving, and we encourage you to come share this experience with us.
Tim Good, stage director of “Parade,” adds, “I sincerely apologize that some historically hurtful symbols, which have been featured in our publicity, have been triggering or outright hurtful for individuals in our DePauw community. This was the opposite of the intention.”