Thought-provoking art examines atrocity
By Scarlett Harris
The Columbine High School massacre of 1999 is a tragic watershed moment in school shootings—the one everyone refers back to—and that’s what Monash University Student Theatre (MUST) played on with their two-and-a-half-hour performance simply entitled Columbine.
Directed by recent NIDA graduate Daniel Lammin, Columbine uses interview transcripts from witnesses, articles written in the aftermath, and even a speech given by then-President Bill Clinton to shed light on the myriad feelings the massacre brought up for people the world over in a sort of doco-meets-immersive art amalgamation.
The ensemble cast, all dressed in blue jeans and black singlets, did a stellar job at—I wouldn’t call it acting, but—making the audience feel as opposed to just observing. Columbine was more like an art installation or a live think piece than a mere theatre production. The minimalist staging, lighting and costuming allowed for those in attendance to draw their own conclusions and ensured questions about Columbine, violence, the media, youth, parenting, religion, guns and pop culture were left on our lips as we exited the theatre. So much so that one doesn’t necessarily even need to watch what’s going on onstage; you can just close your eyes and open yourself up to the emotion.
Columbine also employs the use of the 1990s cult music the school shooters, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, listened to (remember Marilyn Manson as scapegoat for their actions?) which was performed to rousing perfection. “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails was a revelation.
While the show did go a little longer than was ideal (props for the comfy seats, though, MUST!), with all the content that allegedly inspired Harris and Klebold and all that has been spawned from their actions, I dare say Columbine could have gone on forever. No doubt their crimes will continue to reverberate and affect ever more artists and their audiences.
Columbine runs from Tuesday 3rd to Friday 6th September at 7:30 at MUST Theatre Space, Campus Centre Building, Monash University Clayton. Tickets $18 full, $14 concession, $12 Monash Student Association members via msa.monash.edu.au/must or at the door (subject to availability).