CMU School of Drama

Monday, September 26, 2016

Two schoolgirls set on fire in school play horror as stage prop bursts into flames

Mirror Online: This horrific footage captured the moment two schoolgirls were set alight in the middle of a school play.

Their teacher has since been sacked for allowing a child to throw a lit candle into the cardboard prop that the two victims were hiding in.

10 comments:

Jake Poser said...

This is RIDICULOUS! Though the title reads quite comedic, the issue at hand is not. Using real fire on stage, especially in a educational venue with student performers and technicians is plainly idiotic. The theater director/supervisor should have known better than to have a student light a match on stage, and throw it into a prop, especially one made out of cardboard. I truly feel bad for all students involved with this production and for the audience who had to watch it. There are even professional productions of theater that veer far from the use of real fire on stage. In cases that fire is used, many precautions are taken both on and off stage, in rehearsal, and far before production even begins to ensure the safety of all involved. Unfortunately, this was obviously not the case here. Any clear headed adult could and should have seen the drawbacks and dangers of students handling fire. Even in Hamilton, Broadway's most successful show at the moment takes precautions when using fire. A bucket of water is on stage ready for the actress lighting the object on fire to throw it in. I am also most certain that a fire curtain exists in the theater. I cannot say the same for this high school. These types of injuries are something that the students will have to deal with for a long time after their healing. The teacher, unfortunately, deserved their consequences.

Zak Biggins said...

I agree with Jake that the title of this article doesn't depict the severity of the subject matter well. I happen to think that using live fire onstage is inappropriate in most cases- however, there are certainly times when you need to use fire to accomplish the desired effect. In an educational setting, it is crucial for students to feel safe onstage. Precautions were evidently not taken seriously in this particular instance. In professional productions, cast/crew members spend a significant amount of time rehearsing live fire. Any complications with fire should be denoted by stage management immediately and perhaps should spark (no pun intended) a conversation regarding the necessity of the effect. I hope this onstage mistake open eyes and prevents problems in future productions.

Delaney Johnson said...

I would love to know what was going on in the teachers mind when he or she decided this was a good choice. This is inappropriate, dangerous and outright uncalled for. Fire can be an excellent effect on stage but only for experienced professionals and individuals with the training required to use such a dangerous prop. There should most definitely be increased focus on safety and appropriateness of dangerous fetes on stage especially in schools. Too often in schools theatre is taught without the proper focus on education and training of both safety and proper choices to make art not only visually appeasing but also safe to all involved. I feel this is a good reason why schools should require some theatre technology classes for all areas of theatre. Ultimately my heart goes out to these girl and their families and I am happy to say that the teacher deserves the consequence she is being given for her actions.

Alex Talbot said...

I saw this a few days ago, and I still can't believe the stupidity in this instance. Live flame on a stage without a clear and full plan involving it is one thing, but tossing that into clearly flammable material is clearly quite another. It's pure luck that the entire facility did not burn down and that more people weren't injured, let alone killed. It is crazy to me that the teacher was only fired, and that no charges have been pressed against him for this incident. Safety issues like this are really what scares me about low budget school theatre--usually some of the first things that are cut back on are arguably the most important, including well trained staff and safety equipment, because there's nobody who truly understands the issues and risks, Besides fire, the amount of instance where people have been injured and killed because of unsafe or broken rigging, just because of the lack of training by those operating and building the equipment. Safety should always be the first priority, and if you can't afford to be safe you can't afford to have a show.

Michelle Li said...

But like.....WHAT DID THEY EXPECT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN THEY THREW A LIT MATCH ONTO CARDBOARD???? This completely baffles me, almost to the point where I'm inclined to laugh (but not yet, because this is just awful). Wow. The things that go through my mind upon watching this include: 1. Was this never rehearsed before?? 2. Who approved this 3. WHERES THE FIRE WALL 4. This is why scenery is supposed to be fire retardant!!! I respect the director/teacher's want to create a more realistic depiction of the scene and even the want to use real fire, but like Jake mentioned above-- even many professional theaters steer way clear of using real fire because of the innate dangers involved with using it. There was such poor oversight involved with this incident and I feel terrible that one of the girls on stage had to walk away with second degree burns. I hope that with this, the school can move on to having safer protocol with school shows and that it does not deter them from putting on future shows.

Claire Farrokh said...

Oh what the hell. This can not be a real thing. Literally what human being could ever think this was a good idea. "Let's use a real match with live flame onstage!" "Great idea! But then how do we put it out?" "Well she could just blow it out" "No that's dumb let's have her THROW IT ON A CARDBOARD SCENIC PIECE!" How stupid could you possibly be to think that is a smart thing to do. That being said, it sucks that things like this happen. Low budget theatres need to make compromises all the time in order to get their show to happen, and sometimes it ends up creating major safety issues. This is a very extreme version of that, with a nice dash of immense stupidity mixed in there, since I still cannot understand how anyone would ever okay that. Also did they not rehearse? Whatever. The point is, theatres, especially high school/community theatres, need to be more careful when creating their shows. It can be hard because a lot of times these shows are run by students or amateurs, but there need to be stricter safety codes.

Zara Bucci said...

I cannot say that I’m particularly surprised by the fact that a high school had a malfunction to this degree. They are not working with professionals and are creating make-shift props using elements that they through together. I don’t remember fire-proofing anything in high school or middle school for productions. We would try the most outrages effects with the smallest of resources. We bought haze in a can for a production of hairspray my freshman year of high school. This article should be a standout to all other high schools that they should be extremely careful when creating props and costumes. My heart obviously goes out to all of the people harmed by this malfunction in the prop. I hope that this serves as an eye opener to all of the other high schools out there that are not paying attention to what they are putting in their actors hands.

Sophie Chen said...

This is crazy. What was the teacher thinking and how is he not arrested? The girls in this show are teenage students, while the teacher is clearly an adult who should be capable of making responsible decisions. The fact that the school insurance declined to take responsibility or cover the students' medical bills because the fire "was not accidental" is even more disturbing and fundamentally doesn't make sense. Shouldn't the school take more responsibility because it was intentional? I also hope that the director/teacher responsible for this is facing more consequences than simply being sacked, since he's clearly too stupid to realize how stupid he is. This is why safety is so important for theater in educational settings. People may think theater in middle/high school is just kids acting out a play and "nothing's real", but that doesn't mean that a cardboard won't catch on fire when a match is thrown onto it.

Alex Kaplan said...

This is absolutely terrible! I don’t understand why an adult would think that throwing a lit match onto dry cardboard with two students inside was a good idea! The three girls involved are now scarred for life, if not physically, than emotionally. I think that there should have been more security measures involved in supervising this show. Yes, it is a low budget high school show, but that doesn’t mean that harm couldn’t be done, as we saw here. I think that it is terrible that the school would not cover the girls medicine bills because the fire was not accidental. I don’t think that anyone meant for the fire to happen so 1.Yes, the fire was an accident, and 2. Even if it wasn’t the school was still at fault and should take responsibility and help out their students. I think that the teacher who is responsible for this terrible thing really needs to take a look at their decisions and realize what it actually means to be an adult.

Daniel Silverman said...

This is absolutely terrifying. I’m glad that the teacher got fired, but I don’t think that’s enough. I think this is negligence. Anybody who has seen any Smoky the Bear videos or above the age of (I don’t know) 8 would know better. By not properly supervising this activity – even encouraging it – isn’t just stupid, it’s downright criminal. I have seen and read about a lot of accidents and incidents on stage, but this is something new. Most of them really are accidents. Unforeseen events that lead up to catastrophic failure or structures that were designed for one specific situation and couldn’t stand up to additional forces or stresses. This isn’t the case hear. I’d like to hear the students’ side of the story on this. I wonder if they told their teacher that this was a bad idea. This story gives bad high school theater an even worse reputation.