School removes play promotion sign
Complaints about hangman’s noose prompts district action
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.