The following email was sent to the Washington College community yesterday evening by President Kurt Landgraf to respond to criticism that the liberal arts institution had censured freedom of artistic expression by cancelling a student production of the play entitled “The Foreigner.”
Dear Campus Community,
Last Friday, we announced a decision to cancel two scheduled public performances of “The Foreigner.” This play—written in the 1980s and frequently produced at educational and professional institutions across the country—centers on a group of people who feel “othered” by society in various ways, including premarital pregnancy, neurological differences, and age. Over the course of the play, these individuals build a community together through listening, learning and, humor, but their bond is threatened by the xenophobic anger and self-proclaimed entitlement of two other characters. In the climax of the play, the community of disenfranchised protagonists rises up to easily defeat the bigoted antagonists (who reveal themselves as members of the KKK). It is through the portrayal and defeat of these villainous characters that the play conveys its message about the evils of xenophobia, the dangers of “othering,” and the importance of empathy.