I am quite positive that most every American student has been told about the nature of the Columbine High School massacre. For those few students who may be unfamiliar with the story, here is a brief recap: on April 20th, 1999, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris performed a mass shooting at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. 12 students, including the two perpetrators, were killed as a result of the shooting. Klebold and Harris were the last to die through suicide, and there were 24 others with non-fatal injuries. However, there is always more background to every story.
Most people who have studied the Columbine shootings believe that the massacre could have been prevented. After research was done by the Columbine police department, it was determined that Eric Harris had been diagnosed with depression and was on medication, and both Eric and Dylan were bullied in school, specifically by the “jocks.” Mind you, this is the late 1990’s where bullying was only thought of as teasing and was not a major issue to the degree it is viewed as today. Events like Columbine are the reason we have presentations and guest speakers on topics such as bullying and suicide prevention. Since this fatal event, the United States has taken a more strict stance on gun control, and school systems have adjusted their rules to have no tolerance for violent behavior and bullying, both physical and verbal. At least, that was the plan. As a society, we want our children to grow up to be successful, but we don’t always focus on whether they are happy or humble.
Throughout the month of February until the first week of March with the closing of the production, Lycoming College hosted days and events in relation to the Columbinus project and Columbine itself. There have been days dedicated to other mass school shootings, including the heartbreaking Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in which 28 children and teachers were shot and killed. Other days were dedicated to bring to light to the dark stories of Klebold and Harris leading up to April 20th, as well as to tell the stories of the victims. There were days to spread awareness of mental illness and stop the stigma. Opening the eyes of the youth is the only way we can spread the message that the words you say truly make a difference. Offer a hand to lift people up; do not push them down. All in all, the Columbinus Project that took place at Lycoming College was a series of events that were keyed into the mental effects of bullying and understanding exactly why the fatal event happened April 20th, 1999 and how we can try to prevent it from happening again.
Student Programs here at Lycoming College gave permission to a group of students to put on a student production of “Columbinus,” a theatrical version of the story of the Columbine Massacre, directed by Nigel Barnes and performed in East Hall Coffee House. The show is not meant to outwardly say who is the good guy or the bad guy, but to open the audience’s eyes to both sides of the story. Violent behavior does not come out of nowhere. I am sure this production has opened the eyes of many others just as it has opened mine about the effects of bullying and mental illness. Bullying and mental illness know no boundaries and are not limited to high school students. Remember: love trumps hate. Be kind.
This show is for mature audiences only and has intense language and portrays violence, so children are not recommended to view this production. The production uses actual journal entries from Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and is based on true events. I am honored to have been selected as the stage manager for this production. My Theatre History professor always asks us to answer the question: “why this play now?” and I feel as though this play will always be relevant. Hopefully, there will be a time where this play is not relevant, but that will not be the case until there is a permanent change.
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