By Ronn Smith. Adapted from the novel by Avi.
Cast: 5m., 5w. (may be expanded to as many as 38 speaking roles. Some gender flexibility possible.) Philip Malloy is a 14-year-old student at Harrison High School. One day, Philip decides to hum along with "The Star-Spangled Banner" as the song is played over the public-address system during morning announcements. Margaret Narwin, Philip's homeroom teacher, promptly sends him to the vice principal's office for breaking a faculty rule requiring all students to stand at "respectful, silent attention" while the national anthem is playing. When multiple versions of what happened in the classroom are picked up by a candidate running for the school board, the host of a talk radio program, and a reporter for the local newspaper, what should have been just a simple, internal incident for the school turns into an unfortunate public crisis for both Philip Malloy and Margaret Narwin. The coverage—and increasing controversy—places Philip, his family, Harrison High and the entire community at the center of a national media event. But why do the versions differ? And who is telling the truth? There are no easy answers presented in this play, which is ultimately concerned with the critically important issues of respect, personal freedom and patriotism. Minimal set.