“Including Shooter” addresses controversy surrounding school shootings

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Ava Seccuro staff writer

The Drama Lab class put on a production of “Including Shooter” by Nicholas C. Pappas on Sept. 21 and 22 at 7 p.m. in the Salter Theatre. The play was intended to raise questions and bring awareness in prominent societal topics, such as mental health, gun violence and substance abuse.

“Including Shooter” depicted the story of fictional school shooter James Smith, the impact he had on the lives of his victims and how he fit into the so called “community” of real life school shooters before him.

The acting, based purely on how the performers assumed the role, not based on how the adaptation of the play told the actors how to assume the role, was impressive. Throughout the play, James Smith (sophomore Max Love), was emotional, loud and evocative to the point where one could truly visualize and empathize with Smith’s past. In the second act, scenes three and four were particularly engrossing.

Scene three, set at the high school reunion of some of the survivors of the shooting, displayed a humorous and touchingly believable chemistry between characters Mike (sophomore Parsa Farnad), Eddie (senior Seba Shramkovsky) and Megan (sophomore Alyssa Schwartz). Scene four, written in point of view of victim 6, Raleigh (junior Seena Khoshbin) gave the audience a different perspective, a more depressing perspective. Khoshbin immersed himself in his role and totally convinced the audience of his character’s hope, dreams and plight.

Despite the admirable acting, the adaptation and message of the play was questionable. It is evident that “Including Shooter” would be controversial. The play covered deep and dark concepts such as mental illness, abuse, addition, rape and of course gun violence, and those concepts should be drawn to the attention of the masses. However, with the excessive representation of the real life school shooters, especially in act three, it was almost as if the play glorified school shooters.

The playwright, Pappas, is mostly responsible for the events reenacted and the lines portrayed; however, the way the play was adapted still included some things that definitely could be considered as insensitive by more than a few people. For instance, the third act dedicated every scene in it  to display an arms race between the real life shooters, comparing kill stats, how many minutes it took to kill the victims and the circumstances in which they commited the crime and why. Aside from just the third act, the entire play included lines and facial expressions on expressed by the characters that showed sheer excitement regarding the tragic and controversial events in the play, which for some audience could be potentially taken as offensive.

The main message of the play was essentially to bring awareness to the fact that, despite their heinous crimes, school shooters are still humans, and should be treated as such, preferably before the shooting in an attempt to somehow stop them from happening. The play over emphasized the fact that the audience should sympathize with shooter.

There should be some credit given to the production because multiple biases and opinions were included in the portrayal of the play’s message, but truthfully, the play would have been better off without the misleading glorification of school shooters. Highlights would rate this play a six out of 10.

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