Friday, theater students at Olympia High School will make a statement about school shootings with a public reading of the 1999 one-act play “Bang Bang You’re Dead.”
Students asked to give a reading after attending last month’s Washington State Thespians Conference, where “Bang Bang” playwright William Mastrosimone wrote the keynote address
After the 1998 shooting at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon, Mastrosimone and Michael Fisher, the school’s drama teacher, wrote the play with hopes of reaching would-be shooters and those in whom they might confide.
“The search for the next shooter is not a manhunt,” Mastrosimone wrote in the keynote address. “It’s a rescue mission.”
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“My students were just incredibly moved by his letter,” said Kathy Dorgan, the school’s drama teacher. “They are very sensitive to these kinds of things happening in the world.
“They see these magnificent kids in Florida and think, ‘We can be those kids, too, in our own community, in our own way.’ ”
The Olympia reading will be one of many at schools across the state as part of the Washington State Thespians Social Action Project. The group suggested readings be held during the week of April 16 to coincide with national school walkout set for April 20, the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
Timberline High School drama students will present readings Thursday, April 19, for students only. Capital High School’s advanced theater class is working with administration to schedule a reading later in the spring, said Kristina Cummins, Capital’s drama teacher.
“I'm very proud of my Capital student Jenna Cusack, whose short film won at our State Thespian Conference and was played prior to the reading of Mastrosimone's keynote,” Cummins said in an email. “It was quite an emotional experience.”
The film, “Control,” directed by Jenna and written by fellow student Abby Dyck, follows an isolated young man planning to shoot classmates. (See it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVyTPH37YJw.)
“School shootings are often seen in only one light,” Jenna said in an email. “We wanted to change this and humanize the possible school shooter. Our goal was for the audience to understand his pain.”
‘Bang Bang You’re Dead’
What: Olympia High School’s Drama Club and Thespian Troupe present a staged reading of William Mastrosimone’s 1999 one-act about a school shooting. A talkback with school counselors and administrators will follow.
When: 9:35 a.m. Friday, April 13. Non-students will need to arrive early to check in at the main office before the performance.
Where: Olympia High School Performing Arts Center, 1302 North St. SE, Olympia