By Grace Ettinger
Photo Credit: Pat Moran
Oregon Children’s Theatre’s Columbinus was a thought-provoking and haunting show. Based on Columbine, the horrific school shooting in 1999, the show revolved around the lives of the students, both the victims and the two shooters. The dialogue and characters were based on real accounts – the journal entries and video diaries of the two killers, overheard conversations during the attack, and interviews with the survivors. A real recording of a teacher speaking with a 911 operator was played during the eery attack scene.
Each character was an archetypical high schooler. Jocks and nerds and off-kilter freaky girls mingled together and did typical high school things. A common thread between the storylines of each character was a lack of communication. The popular boy was unable to communicate his true identity, the freaky girl was in love with another misfit but was unable to say it, and the two shooters’ issues were overlooked because no one was invested enough to dig deep and find out what was really going on. If someone had gone to the show not knowing what Columbine was, they could have easily guessed that the show was just about a group of high schoolers who needed to learn a lesson about bullying. That is, until two of the characters began to go down a violent and dark road, with no one seeming to notice or take action until it was way too late.
I left the theater and cried on the way back to my car. Seeing these young actors perform such serious roles so well was intense. The maturity with which the high school-aged cast handled the subject matter was impressive. This production was a bold new direction for the Young Professionals and Oregon Children’s Theatre.
About Grace Ettinger:
Grace Ettinger is a 9th grader at Northwest Academy. She is 14 years old and lives in Portland. She loves attending the theater, and has been doing so ever since she was little; the first show she remembers seeing was The Boxcar Children. Grace also loves performing, and her first role was as an orphan in Annie when she was eight. Some of her favorite shows include Pippin and The Book of Mormon, both of which she saw on broadway last summer. Grace’s first reviews were written when she was seven on her mother’s old electric typewriter as a part of her self-published newspaper, The Lofty Times. She is an active member of the theater and performing arts community at her school, recently performing in Dynamo, As You Like It, and Xanadu. If you ask her nicely, she will recite Celia’s monologue on roller skates. She has also been involved with Reader’s Theater Repertory this year. She is happy to have the chance to see more local shows this year as Artslandia’s kid reviewer. Grace also enjoys writing, comedy, vintage shopping, collaging, and completely wasting time on the internet.