Play; Documentary drama. Cast: 5m., 3w. Unit set. Approximate running time: Act One: 1 hour, 10 minutes. Act Two: 45 minutes. By the United States Theatre Project. Written by Stephen Karam and PJ Paparelli. Dramaturgy by Patricia Hersch. Conceived by PJ Paparelli.
columbinus, a play sparked by the April 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., is a meeting of fact and fiction that illuminates the realities of adolescent culture by exploring the events surrounding the shootings. The play weaves together excerpts from discussions with parents, survivors and community leaders in Littleton as well as police evidence to bring to light the dark recesses of American adolescence. When columbinus premiered in 2005 at the Round House Theatre, Peter Marks of the Washington Post called it, "An ambitious examination of the suburbanization of evil," and the play went on to receive five Helen Hayes Award nominations including the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play. Following the off-Broadway opening at New York Theatre Workshop one year later, Variety proclaimed: "This one comes straight from the gut—a wrenching return to the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in which 12 students and a teacher were killed when two senior classmates went on a shooting rampage. The United States Theatre Project's smart and sensitive treatment of the event, which traumatized a suburban Colorado community and shocked the entire country, stirs up thought and feeling in this clean ensemble production, drawn from interviews, public records and the private diaries of the shooters."
An unnerving study in adolescent angst, columbinus relentlessly paints a bold picture that bears witnessing … it merges the facts of the Columbine massacre with a harrowing impression of what life is like in high schools today. — Star-Ledger
Mr. Karam and Mr. Paparelli have captured authentic notes of adolescent anxiety and yearning in briskly drawn scenes. —New York Times
A powerful and important piece about the churning rage that's all too likely to bubble over again one day. —New York Post
"This one comes right from the gut … highly theatrical and deeply disturbing." —Variety