Dramatic License


In a Glenelg, Maryland, high school, Jim Frisby, a black student, and Nick Lehan, a white student, performed the song "Muddy Water" from the theatrical version of Mark Twain's Huck Finn. The only difference was, Frisby played Huck and Lehan played the slave, Jim.

This was all well and good until C-Span tried to air the performance on Close Up. R & H Theatricals, the Rogers and Hammerstein organization that owns the license to the play, denied Close Up permission to air the song, arguing that "when you're dealing with a theatrical work and race or ethnicity is a key factor, many authors or playwrights feel strongly that ethnicity has to be reflected in the actors who portray the characters." Frisby's father says that's racism. Mark Twain could not be reached for comment.