The Whitefire Theatre and Loft Ensemble Presents “The Columbine Project.” Written by Paul Storiale. Directed by Bree Pavey.
Running from April 17 – May 22, Wednesdays at 8PM
The Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks, 91423
It seems impossible that the tragedy of Columbine was 20 years ago.
It’s one of those moments in our lives when everyone knows exactly where they were. The shots quite literally heard around the world, and it changed everything.
This production has been evolving for many years, since the writer Paul Storiale was first moved to say something about this shameful day. He built his piece from memories shared with him personally by some of the survivors, as well as passages from their journals and diaries, and the journals and videos from the killers themselves. With so much information finding a clear path through it all to the truth of the story must have been daunting. But Storiale masterfully creates a fusion of thoughts, reactions, memories and reality that blend together to tell a solemn and cautionary tale.
Who are these boys who kill? Why do they fall so far and chose to take so many with them? There have been far too many more of these terrible days. What first was shocking is now almost a daily event and still we are no closer to real gun laws and any kind of healing.
This cast is truly extraordinary in their ability to present such a horrific story and imbue every moment, even those so hard to face, with humanity and grace and fearlessness. The play doesn’t turn away from what happened, doesn’t make pretty what is ugly and romanticize what must be faced. What it does is give us a full and fair picture of the days leading up to the shooting and some semblance of understanding of the two boys who murdered and terrorized Columbine High. What we come away with is sadness for everyone and a more detailed understanding of the victims, all so young and so loved, and a hope that somehow things will change.
Why commemorate such a subject? It’s sadly a part of our American culture, a shameful and awful part that needs to be talked about and shared in vivid and heartbreaking ways like this until it becomes ancient American history.
It’s not easy to look in the mirror, to know that these kids are just like many others all over the world.
Full of loathing and pain, fear and hopelessness, they are terrifyingly invisible and always overlooked and easily dismissed. They crave to be seen, even as they destroy themselves. Maybe we have learned a little then. The recent shooting in New Zealand was one of the worst so far and the impact was brutal. We still don’t know the killer’s name, his videos are blocked, social media taken down ,and assault rifles were totally banned in New Zealand within a few days. We can wish that they will also be banned here without the horrible loss of life. But it’s unlikely, sadly. So we must talk about it and write about it and push our elected officials and even perform plays about it, until that wish comes true.
This is a really excellent play – poignant, purposeful and deep, and wonderfully acted and directed.
It’s only being performed once a week on Wednesday nights, so there are not many performances. Get your tickets quickly. It’s a tough subject but the play gives grace to those who were lost and a vivid, important glimpse into the nature of those who killed and that is well worth your time.
The cast features the talents of Elijah Archibald, Tor Brown, Gary Clayton, Noah Copfer, Dantzen DeBusk, Madylin Sweeten Durrie, Victoria Anne Greenwood, Barbera Ann Howard, Katy Laughlin, Marc Leclerc, Max Marsh, CJ Merriman, Sarah Nilsen, Bree Pavey, Danielle Power, Bryan Rasmussen, Diane Renee, Matthew Wayne Roberts, Devan Schoelen and Nora Yessayan.
The production and design team includes Bree Pavey (Director), Latiera Harmon (Assistant Director), Sarah Nilsen (Rehearsal Stage Manager), Tor Brown (Lighting Designer), Tor Brown (Sound and Video Designer), and Linda Muggeridge (Costume Designer)