This play tells the story of one of the most diabolical moments in recent American history, the Columbine High School shooting.
The writer, Mr Storiale, using accounts and memories shared with him directly by some of the survivors as well as passages from their journals and diaries, and the journals and videos from the killers themselves, has methodically and with great respect pieced together the days leading up to the shooting as well as the shooting itself.
In vivid and moving detail, we are transported to the world of Columbine. The high school brutality of life, the normalizing of competitive barbarism, the heartbreaking pummeling of spirit, and uniqueness and individuality into tormented and broken souls. There is something spectacularly ugly about American high school. The acceptance of hate, the legitimizing of cruelty, the mechanizing of hierarchical and societal systems so medieval in nature it’s amazing anyone survives it.
These brutalities can only breed more brutalities and this play lays bare our horrifying suspicions of motive and blame.
The two boys who committed these terrible crimes were once just boys. Although it’s clear that the kind of evil they committed can never be explained away by something as convenient as bullying, the kind of social structure this school and so many others offer children, all so totally unprepared for the harshness of others, as well as teachers too busy or not interested enough to notice pain is an obvious, compelling and all to common narrative that is parallel by the many subsequent mass murders since Columbine.
The somber brilliance of this play is how all these pieces of this tragic puzzle are scattered about on stage in vignettes of truth and consequence. The realities of the lives of both the murderers and their victims are made real and breathlessly full by some pretty incredible performances. We are privy to moments drawn from diaries and conversations, memories still fresh and so stunning in their averageness. We see ourselves on this stage, our daughters and sons and our deepest fears and greatest nightmares.
Of course this is even more relevant with every passing day now.
When will the next shooter strike, which school, or college or university? How can we predict something so horrible that it can happen anywhere to anyone? The rage against this, the most American of horrors is palpable, but is it enough?
Only time and politics will tell, but for now, in our world of theatre, we can be thankful that writers write what we need to see and hear, again and again, to keep us angry and heartbroken and active. It might not be a play that makes you laugh or brings you obvious warmth and fond memories, but it does give a powerful and important reflection of the tragedy of our American times. It should be obligatory viewing for every high school, every politician, every gun owner and every president, of the NRA or White House, not that I am expecting miracles. But we can hope can’t we.
I had a visceral and lasting response to “The Columbine Project.” I cannot recommend it enough. Go for the history, go for the heartache, the performances and the inspiration to create change. It’s sadly a part of our American culture, a shameful and awful part that needs to be talked about and shared in ways like this until it’s gone and becomes ancient American history.
“The Columbine Project” is truly excellent theatre. Poignant, purposeful and deeply and wonderfully acted and directed. I wept a few times, as I am sure you will too, but don’t we need to weep for this?
Running it’s final shows Saturday May 19th at 8pm & Sunday May20th at 7pm
Loft Ensemble, 13442 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks California 91423
Written by Paul Storiale
Directed by Bree Pavey
Marc Leclerc, Tor Jensen Brown, Victoria Anne Greenwood, Dantzen Debusk, Stephanie Jones, Bryan Rasmussen, Diane Renee, LaVel Stacy, Benjamin David Rawls, Dray Debusk, Gary J. Clayton, Nora Yessayan, Madlyn Sweeten, Max marsh, Devan Schooled, Danielle Power, Barbera Ann Howard, CJ Merriman, Matthew Wayne Roberts, Bree Pavey, Sarah Nilsen
Producers – Tor Brown, Bree Pavey, Madlyn Sweeten
Writer – Paul Stoiale
Director – Bree Pavey
Associate Producer – Pat Brown
Assistant Directors – LaTiera Harmon, Danielle Power
Stage Managers – Katy Laughlin, Sarah Nilsen
Set Design – Madylin Sweeten
Lighting designer – Matthew Richter
Sound Design – Tor Brown, Bree Pavey
Costume Design – Linda Muggeridge
Graphic Design – Amanda Chambers
Photography – Emma Latimer
Press Agent – Jim Martyka