In the wake of Monday’s massacre at Virginia Tech in which a student killed 32 people, Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg has limited the use of stage weapons in theatrical productions.
Students involved in this weekend’s production of “Red Noses” said they first learned of the new rules on Thursday morning, the same day the show was slated to open. They were subsequently forced to alter many of the scenes by swapping more realistic-looking stage swords for wooden ones, a change that many students said was neither a necessary nor a useful response to the tragedy at Virginia Tech.
According to students involved in the production, Trachtenberg has banned the use of some stage weapons in all of the University’s theatrical productions. While shows will be permitted to use obviously fake plastic weapons, students said, those that hoped to stage more realistic scenes of stage violence have had to make changes to their props.
I can picture it now: West Side Story’s switchblades will be replaced with big yellow plastic pirate swords. All stage guns will look like something out of Roger Rabbit, and have a big flag that says “BANG!” when actors pull the trigger. Because, of course, people might get ideas from more realistic weapons. Or they might be traumatized by the sight of prop six-shooter.
If the theater wasn’t already dead, more moves like this would kill it.