California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Once Cancelled, “Columbinus” to be Performed at Regional Festival

The day before “Columbinus,” a play based on the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, was supposed to premiere at California Lutheran University, the impossible happened. Thousand Oaks became the site of a mass shooting on Nov. 7 when 12 people were killed at Borderline Bar and Grill.

Normally scheduled performances were cancelled, with only one private performance held in the fall. Now, after a whirlwind of events, “Columbinus” actors will perform at the Region VIII Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Feb. 14.

“There were two people from different universities who looked at [Columbinus], and then I got the call on December 15,” said Michael Arndt, chair of the theatre arts department.

Arndt said he was told that they had been invited to the festival, and he accepted.

The Region VIII KCACTF considers productions from Arizona, Central and Southern California, Hawaii, Guam and Southern Nevada. This festival gives theatre students the opportunity to have their work critiqued and present it to a larger audience.

“It feels very official to know that I’m actually doing something that’s getting recognized, and then knowing that, ideally, this can help further the conversation into something more positive, now on a larger scale,” said sophomore Jacob White, who plays one of the gunmen in the play.

Amongst the excitement of being featured at the KCACTF, some of the cast and crew were still dealing with the after effects of Borderline. Some people dropped out of the play, others did not want the play to be performed, and some had gained a new reason to participate.

“After the shooting, we have a different purpose and it made us really dive into our characters. It actually really helped with our characters, too, because we were actually feeling those things, rather than having to act,” said sophomore Victoria Karr, who plays the role of Faith.

The play received media coverage from the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed News, VICE News and the Ventura County Star after the shooting at Borderline.

“I was wondering if we got chosen because we did a great job or just because of all of the media surrounding us, because it gave us a lot of attention and exposure, which no doubt helped… But, still, I’m very happy that we’re going,” White said.

Rather than focusing on the actual shooting, “Columbinus” looks at issues that many high schoolers experience such as isolation and social pressures.

In act one, instead of playing the victims and shooters, the actors first represent archetypes of students found in high school. Some of those roles are Faith, AP (Advanced Placement), Loner (one of the shooters) and Perfect.

The theatre department chose “Columbinus” last spring. Arndt said the past chair of the department had wanted to do a play related to the rampant shootings that were happening all over the country.

The play does not critique gun laws or take a political stance, but it does create awareness, and those involved believe that a lot can be taken away from it. The ending is left open for the audience to contemplate issues such as mental health.

The play may also be therapeutic for some members of the audience, said sophomore Amber Marroquin, who plays the role of Perfect. Marroquin said her roommate, someone close with Borderline victim and Cal Lutheran alum Justin Meek, came to view the invitation-only performance right after his memorial service.

“She saw it and she said that after coming out of it she felt better. She felt like it’s okay to move on, and I wish people could have seen that. She was really sad, and it helped her grief,” Marroquin said.

“Columbinus” will return to the Cal Lutheran stage Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are free and can be reserved online on the Cal Lutheran theatre department webpage.

Kayomi Kayoshi


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