‘Assassins’ Production Comes Back to Arkansas Tech

By March 10, 2008

We reported a few weeks ago that Arkansas Tech cancelled a student production of Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins in the wake of the shootings at Northern Illinois University. Thankfully, the university has announced that the production will be allowed to proceed after all and will take place this coming weekend. The university’s spin on the incident, however, is that they did nothing wrong by postponing the show in the first place. President Robert C. Brown stated:

The postponement of this show was never about censorship or restricting anyone’s rights; rather, it was about taking seriously our responsibility to insure the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. In today’s environment, that responsibility sometimes will force us to make difficult short-term decisions. I am personally pleased that we resolved the safety issues quickly and that these talented students who have worked so hard will be able to showcase their gifts in this production.

This is inconsistent with the university’s original stated rationale for cancelling the production, which was to demonstrate "respect for the families of those victims of the tragedies at Northern Illinois University and Virginia Tech."

It is also worth noting that the production will now be taking place "with extra security measures in place"measures that, according to Inside Higher Ed, include "bag searches" and "advance ticket sales only." While the university is certainly within its rights to spend money on ramping up security at a musical theater production, one can’t help but wonder if it is in fact the best use of university resources. Nonetheless, we’re happy to hear that the show will go on.