Colleen Rockwell ‘18
On Friday, Feb. 23, the play “Columbinus” was presented at the Rogers Center for the Arts at Merrimack College. The play is based off the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, where thirteen lives were taken by two shooters who eventually took their own lives, too. The play was written by Stephen Karam and P.J. Paparelli, among others, and was directed by Merrimack College senior Olivia Lombardo.
Just a week before the play was to debut at the Rogers Center, a mass shooting happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 lives were taken. This play could not be more relevant in society today as gun violence at schools—or anywhere for that matter—is far too common. Just going to school everyday makes one wonder whether they’ll be the next victim.
“Columbinus” had a very simple set, allowing the story story itself to be the most important feature of the play. The stage had three tilted white screens hanging from the ceiling that displayed photos of the shooters’ journals and videos. The opening of the play featured news footage from the Columbine school shooting, which served as a warning sign that the play may be disturbing to some viewers.
The main actors of the play were Zach Evans, who played Freak/Eric Harris, and Tyler D’Ambrosio, who played Loner/ Dylan Klebold. Evans and D’Ambrosio were phenomenal in their roles. These two actors brought their characters to life and really represented just how troubled Harris and Klebold were at the time of the shooting.
To prepare for his role, Evans researched Eric Harris by watching video of him, rewriting various entries from Harris’ journal. Evans notes, “Portraying Eric Harris was a mentally and emotionally challenging experience. His actions, words, behavior, and morals are exactly the opposite of mine.”
The lighting for the play helped set the mood for each scene. Green light on the black backdrop of the stage indicated to the audience that the scene was based in reality, whereas the red light displayed both Harris’ and Klebold’s troubling thoughts and frustrations. The infamous library scene is the most disturbing part of the whole play. Evans and D’Ambrosio both wore trench coats and had guns in their hands. Everytime a person was killed, D’Ambrosio or Evans would hit the chalkboard to mimic the sound of gunshots. It was a smart choice to not have actual gun shots ring out as sound effects because this was already a heavy play to experience.
Hillary Farrell, a senior at Merrimack, said of “Columbinus,” “You know going in what the play is about, but you see that there are two broken systems where people who shouldn’t have access to guns have access to guns and people in authority who were supposed to be looking out failed not only the shooters, but all the students who were killed in the shootings.”
Overall, “Columbinus” was a great play, and with the recent school shootings, it serves as a message that there really needs to be something done to stop gun violence at schools around the nation.