Columbine Play Relevant As Ever, Theater Teacher Says

Lisa Fielding
March 10, 2018 - 1:28 pm
Columbinus Promo

Chicago Academy for the Arts

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — April 20, 1999 — the terrible events that took place at Columbine High School were ones that everyone in the country during that time will never forget.

Now, the Chicago Academy for the Arts is taking on “Columbinus,” written in 2005 from a combination of interviews and recordings of real people involved in the mass shooting.

"It begins with an exploration of every day high school life in Act 1 and essential tells the story of eight archetypes,” Ben Dicke, theater chairman, said. “Then, in Act 2, two of our archetypes become (killers) Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. In Act 2, the events that lead up to the shootings at Columbine and then the events of the aftermath and in the wake of the shootings are depicted onstage.”

Dicke says they chose the play before the Parkland, Florida school shooting but decided to continue with production given the mood and conversation about mental health and guns.

"We chose this play in the fall,” he said. “We went went into rehearsals in February, then the shooting in Marshall, Kentucky, took place; and then the events in Parkland happened, and we had to made a decision whether to move forward with the production." 

"We talked about this. Administration, Arts Chairs, board of trustees, including the students, were consulted. Every time we talk about what's going on right now, it just confirms more and more why we need to do this play. It's so resonant now.”

Dicke said the play looks at mental health, social isolation, and the national debate about gun legislation.

"When I was selecting this play, when I thought this would be a great piece for our department, I immediately went to our head of school because we're bringing prop guns into the building, we're going to be discussing actual violence that actually happened at a high school 20 years ago,” he said. “Those are things that most high schools aren't going to be able to do.”

“Columbinus" will run at The Academy, 1010 W. Chicago Ave., from March 23-25.