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Production explores themes of violence in modern America

MVNU theatre department presents “Bang Bang You’re Dead” a play that is both timely and impactful in today’s culture.

The drama, performed by students, for students, will shed light on issues that are often ignored today. Focusing on violence in schools, “Bang Bang You’re Dead” deals with the consequences of a student’s decision to kill his peers in cold blood.

The play also serves to remind the audience to pay more attention to individuals that may be struggling, hoping to find an alternative to violence and harming others.

Opening night was Thursday, and the show continues tonight and Saturday at 7 p.m. in Thorne Performance Hall in the R.R. Hodges Chapel.

The play features 10 MVNU students as cast members, several of whom play multiple roles.

All tickets are $5 and there is a $1 discount to students with the SGA Pass.

The one-act play, written by William Mastrosimone in 1999, focuses on a high school student, Josh, who murders his parents and five classmates. The plot of the play takes the audience through the emotional and psychological consequences of his actions as Josh is visited by the ghosts of his victims and forced to come to terms with his decisions.

Assistant Professor of Theatre Ryan Long said the play is important because of its impact on our society and the message it will bring to the campus of MVNU.

“I hope that it opens up some dialogue,” Long said. “ This is a real issue in our society.”

Long acknowledges that violence is not just an issue within schools, but in our culture as a whole.

“We live in a culture where violence is increasingly becoming the solution for some people,” Long said.

She hopes “Bang Bang You’re Dead” will also bring awareness to MVNU so students can help prevent violence in the future.

“If we can start some additional dialogue around this we might be able to listen to those instincts a little bit more and step in when we see somebody who is struggling,” Long said.

The play is based on the events that happened on May 20, 1998, in Springfield, Oregon, when 15-year-old Kip Kinkel shot his parents then took a loaded gun to school and went on a shooting rampage, killing two students and injuring 25.

Kinkel, now 34, is serving a sentence of nearly 112 years for the crime.

“Bang Bang You’re Dead” premiered April 1999 at Thurston High School, the actual school that inspired the play. Within three years of the premiere, the play had been performed more than 15,000 times.

The play was revised in 2009 to add references that include more current events that hold the same message Mastrosimone was looking to achieve.

According to Long, Mastrosimone stressed the importance of the play being performed by young people for their peers so it “eliminates the idea of adults preaching to students.” He believed this would make it more realistic and easier for young people to understand the message of the play.

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