DePaul University has one of the most exclusive and accomplished theatre schools in the country, producing famous alumni like Gillian Anderson, John C. Reilly, and Judy Greer. The Theatre School’s plays have tackled serious topics like romance, addiction, and suicide, and have won countless awards within the Chicago theatre community. This year, however, the Theatre School is taking ten steps in the wrong direction by producing Junie B. Jones Is Not A Crook, because apparently, we’re all six years old.
The play is in the vein of the popular Junie B. Jones children’s books, following the hijinx of charismatic first-grader, Junie B. Jones. The series by much-loved author Barbara Park was widely popular—with six-year-olds. Why is the DePaul Theatre School choosing this production for its college-aged audience?
We reached out to the theatre school for comment. “Of course we know that DePaul students would prefer a more advanced theatre production,” says theatre school professor, William Shakeitup. “But we also know how sensitive DePaul’s student body is to controversial issues like class conflict, racial injustice, and misogyny, and we didn’t want them freaking out.”
Indeed, the fear that a more thought-provoking play would increase the quarrelsome nature of DePaul students was widespread throughout the school’s upper echelons. Nancy Higglebottom, Dean of Hashtag Outreach had this to say: “DePaul students are already uppity enough when they want to bring fascists in to speak on campus. The last thing we want is a play encouraging any sort of rebellion or questioning of authority among the students. Junie B. Jones Is Not A Crook is perfect for keeping them at a nice, mentally compliant age like six.”
Even the students in the play seem to approve of the choice in production. According to Rachel Theatertwink, the lead in Junie B. Jones Is Not A Crook, the play does have its fair share of thought-provoking topics. “Our production absolutely fills the theatre’s primary goal of subverting oppressive authorities and questioning previously held truths. Look at the scene when Junie B. has to respond to Teacher’s oppressive homework assignments or is punished for sticking her tongue out at Grace. The adult, complicated themes you’re all looking for are easy to find.”
Despite Miss Theatertwink’s conviction in the intellectual merit of her play, most DePaul students feel condescended to by the theatre school’s choice. In this era of political conflict and oppression at the hands of the oligarchical class, it is every outlet’s duty to promote artful insight, and Junie B. Jones Is Not A Crook just doesn’t measure up.
At press time, the theatre school responded by acknowledging that they’d heard our complaints, and we’re confident that their next production, Arthur and DW in New York, would be satisfactorily thought-provoking. Follow The Black Sheep on social media for updates on this developing story and buy tickets to Junie B. Jones Is Not A Crook to support your local theatre ‘n shit, you lazy scrubs.
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