by Dustin K. Britt
Chatham Life & Style
Drama, Thought, Discusussion ...Change
"columbinus" – local 2020 touring production of the play
about high school alienation, hostility, and social pressure
as manifested in the 1999 Columbine school shootings
Click above to listen to a podcast interview of
Tammy Matthews, Artistic Director and Jacqueline Anthenien, Lead Actress discussing "columbinus".
Live On Stage in
• Pittsboro, Sat., Mar. 7,
in Sweet Bee Theater
• Pittsboro, Sun., Mar. 8,
2pm & 6pm
in Sweet Bee Theater
• Raleigh, Sun., Mar. 22, 2pm & 6pm
in Burning Coal Theater
"columbinus" performances by the Social Justice Theater of the Carolinas scheduled for March 22 have been cancelled. Those who have purchased tickets will be offered a refund or the opportunity to donate their purchase.
Jan., Feb., Mar. 2020 performances will be
FREE TO SCHOOL EMPLOYEES*
thanks to the grant by Manbites Dog.
All other attendees will enjoy a low $10 ticket price made possible by donations from the following Pittsboro Organizations:
• Orange Communities LLC
• Chatham Gravel Driveway and Repairs LLC
• Integrated Commercial Contractors LLC
The Durham Arts Council has also provided their PSI Theatre at a reduced cost.
"Columbinus" is a play by the United States Theatre Project written by Stephen Karam and PJ Paparelli. We have chosen this play to commemorate the lives lost in Columbine High School and all school shootings. Since the Columbine shootings over 200 people have been killed in school shootings in the US.
If it is possible to repair the frayed social fabric in our country, an eyes-wide-open look at school-shooter mentality as is woven into the play "columbinus" may spur discussion–a necessary first step toward widespread understanding and then, hopefully, positive action in us.
This play is important because it deftly unites rather than divides. Instead of focusing on hot-button topics like gun control, columbinus focuses on questions such as those the author, P.J. Paparelli, included in the forward:
PG13 WARNING - Violent and Mature Themes
Heart-wrenching SJTC "columbinus" video shows cast in character and promotes "conversation."
SJTC/"columbinus" Borne from Kids' Reaction to Parkland Shooting
Pittsboro Youth Theater Artistic Director Tammy Matthews said she expected a lot of silly teenagers at rehearsal Valentine’s Day 2018.
"We were rehearsing Shakespeare’s 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream.' I expected the usual chaos pitch but as soon as the cast walked on stage, I could tell something was different–no chatty energy, no giggles or silliness. Something was up.
I looked at one of the actresses that has been with us for years. My eyes must have said, "So, what's going on?" "The shooting" she said. “We were just discussing the shooting." I had been immersed in our little theater all day. I had not heard about Parkland. They filled in the horrific details. We went on with rehearsal. There was work to be done.
Afterwards, several actors stayed behind. They vented their frustrations and anger. I talked about how I remembered where I was and what I was doing when I heard about Columbine... and how nothing had changed. They shared their memories of Sandy Hook; although they were quite young at the time, they remembered. We talked, cried and went home.
I thought that was the end of it.
The next day while randomly thumbing through a stack of scripts I had ordered years ago, columbinus caught my eye. As I read the riveting script, the Social Justice Theater of the Carolinas was born and columbinus was chosen as our inaugural play."
SJTC is currently comprised of alumni of Pittsboro Youth Theater which also calls Sweet Bee Theater “home.” Discussions after Parkland made clear that these young people were interested in applying their theatrical skills for more than entertainment.
April 20, 2019 was the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. SJTC performed "columbinus" live on stage 3 times April 19-20, the Friday and Saturday before Easter Sunday.
- How do we treat each other?
- Why do we treat each other the way we do?
- Why do kids, who will soon ask these questions about their kids,
continue to treat each other the same way?
- Why does this cycle never change, even after the kids themselves
resort to bombs and guns and butchering their fellow students to prove
- Why do we look for an easy answer- a pill to take, a program to turn
off- when we know in our hearts that something deep inside us has to
- What are we afraid of?"
These types of questions create dialogue and bring communities closer rather than divide.
After each performance a counselor will lead a community discussion between the actors and the audience about school shootings.
During rehearsals, there will be daily information, inspiration, pictures and videos on our Facebook page. You will be able to watch as the actors grow into their characters and grapple with this very difficult topic. Followers will be given the weekly discussion topics in advance so they can journal along with the cast. They will be able to post their thoughts and hear back from cast members. This will enhance the discussion by adding to those at the table.
Please become informed and share links about this important project.
Who We Are
Social Justice Theater of the Carolinas (SJTC) is an ensemble theater group based in Sweet Bee Theater, Pittsboro, North Carolina. SJTC is currently comprised of young actors aged from 14 to 18 years. These young actors and the Center for the Arts, Pittsboro are dedicated to using their resources and talents for social change - performing the heart-wrenching, heavy and enlightening play "columbinus".