School re­moves play pro­mo­tion sign

Com­plaints about hang­man’s noose prompts district ac­tion

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Pa­tri­cia Doxsey pdoxsey@free­manon­ pat­ti­at­free­man on Twit­ter

A sign ad­ver­tis­ing the up­com­ing Kingston High School per­for­mance of “And Then There Were None” has been re­moved from the school cam­pus amid a com­mu­nity out­cry over the de­pic­tion of a noose on the sign.

Kathryn Hei­decker, the district’s di­rec­tor of public in­for­ma­tion, said in an emailed state­ment Mon­day that district Su­per­in­ten­dent Paul Padalino re­quested the sign be taken down fol­low­ing “con­cerned phone calls and emails from com­mu­nity mem­bers about the image.”

The large sign bore a de­pic­tion of a hang­man’s noose, along with the name of the play, the dates on which the play is to be per­formed and ticket in­for­ma­tion.

Hei­decker said the use of a noose as an image for the Agatha Christie mur­der-mys­tery clas­sic was drawn from a play­bill by Sa­muel French, an in­ter­na­tional publisher and li­cen­sor of plays and mu­si­cals for the stage.

A Google search of the name of the play re­vealed nu­mer­ous

images of play­bills, movie posters and other pro­mo­tional lit­er­a­ture on which a hang­man’s noose has been used over the years to ad­ver­tise the per­for­mances.

The orig­i­nal ti­tle of the book on which the play is based was “Ten Lit­tle N ****** ,” em­ploy­ing a racial ep­i­thet used to de­mean blacks.

Lynch­ing was an ex­trale­gal, ter­ror­is­tic form of mob violence used to main­tain the sub­ju­ga­tion of Amer­i­can blacks, most fre­quently in the late 19th and early 20th cen­turies.

In her state­ment, Hei­decker said the district rec­og­nized the noose “is a highly of­fen­sive sym­bol” and said of­fi­cials “re­gret its use in the pro­mo­tion of this play.”

She de­clined, how­ever to say how the noose sym­bol came to be used by the district or who — if any­one — ul­ti­mately ap­proved the sign be­fore it was erected on the front lawn of the high school.

The plot of the Christie book re­volves around 10 strangers who are sum­moned to a re­mote is­land and are mur­dered, one by one.

Writ­ten in 1939, the book was first pub­lished in the United King­dom by the Collins Crime Club, un­der a ti­tle that bore the racial ep­i­thet, but, when it was re­leased in the U.S. in 1940, the ti­tle had been changed to “And Then There Were None.” The work also has been pub­lished and per­formed un­der the name “Ten Lit­tle In­di­ans.”

Hei­decker noted that “al­though the orig­i­nal ti­tle con­tains a slang word that is to­day an in­flam­ma­tory racial ep­i­thet, race re­la­tions are not a theme in the play.

“The play is a clas­sic mur­der mys­tery that re­lies on a closed cir­cle of sus­pects to build dra­matic ten­sion,” she said.

Hei­decker said the district hopes to use the in­ci­dent as “a teach­able mo­ment for stu­dents, staff, and com­mu­nity and an op­por­tu­nity for con­ver­sa­tions about cul­tural sen­si­tiv­ity in our di­verse school district.”

The play will be per­formed Fri­day and Satur­day at 7 p.m. and Sun­day at 3 p.m. at Kingston High School, 403 Broad­way.


This sign, with a hang­man’s noose, pro­mot­ing a play has been re­moved from the cam­pus of Kingston High School af­ter a com­mu­nity out­cry about the use of the racially charged sym­bol. The orig­i­nal name of the book on which the play is based em­ployed a racial ep­i­thet used to den­i­grate blacks.

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