From 'Macbeth' to 'Romeo and Juliet', I found the plays of William Shakespeare fascinating since I was a kid. It was a round that time I learned the art of tragedy, playwriting, and that not every story had a happy ending. It was bitter pill to swallow. But I loved it, I learned something important. There is so much that tragedy can teach us. When I read 'The Birth of Tragedy' by Friederich Nietzsche, my understanding of it was that the Ancient Greeks used art and culture as a way of expressing themselves, their times of suffering through art and theatre. Since then, plays were written and performed as an expression of the times they were written in to get us to think and reflect on other people's thoughts, sufferings, and feelings. One beauty of art. I never thought of myself as a Playwright. I only enjoyed watching theatres and musicals because all the actors and all the singers were right in front of me. I didn't think I'd ever have anything to contribute. But then, something changed. It was around the time I was in secondary school that I heard of the Columbine High School Massacre. Coincidentally, it also around that time that I came across a play written by J B Priestley called 'An Inspector Calls.' I thought nothing of it at the time because it had nothing to do with me and I didn't care because it was something that happened in some foreign country. But then I started hearing horror stories and lies in the mainstream media about "Violent video games cause young people to kill." Of course, that's not true. I played video games for years, all my life in fact, since I was a child and to me it was a great form of entertainment. But the lies spread like wildfire all over the world and yet everyone believed them, many gullible people called for video games to be censored, or get them banned. That was when I learned another valuable lesson; The mainstream media doesn't tell the truth. So I decided to do my own investigation into the massacre and launch a massive campaign to defend video games as an art form. As I dug deeper I began to find a lot of things that lead up to the cause of the massacre. The lie the media pushed was that two teenagers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, played a video game called 'Doom 2' which made them want to go out and shoot their school. The media went as far as to blame the singer Marilyn Manson for the massacre even though they never listened to a single song of his. The truth, as it turned out, that these teenagers were routinely bullied in their school and nobody came to help them. The "jocks" (athletic boys) would beat up the geeks (intellectuals) to make them look strong, cool, and attractive to others. The adults did nothing to intervene, they didn't discipline the bullies, or help the teenagers in need, they simply accepted bullying as "normal" and carried on as if it was nothing. The youths felt abandoned and traumatised. I was able to empathise with Eric and Dylan because I was also on the receiving end of bullying in my secondary school too. But the difference was simple, the UK has strict gun laws, but the USA is known for having easy access to guns. The video game 'Doom' and 'Doom 2' were forms of art that was their only way of escapism from the tragic reality of being a helpless victims of bullying. The feeling of shooting demons in a virtual environment gives the sense of empowerment for short periods of time, but it didn't solve their real life problems. Video games were their only offered a small dose catharsis for anger and frustration. In a dissertation I wrote for university, years, I argued that the shooting was a result of Post-Traumatic Stress disorder. After being exposed to physical violence and unable to defend themselves, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold felt that there was no other way to overcome this problem than to fight back by shooting the jocks and killing themselves in the process. At least, they felt, they can escape from the world they hate like soldiers, more like martyrs. It was on that basis that I wrote 'School Shooter.' The more I researched, the more problems I uncovered that were all linked. In my play, I was trying to tackle a lot of the following issues: - Bullying - Backstabbing - Materialism - Racism - Social status anxiety - Rejection - Loneliness - Corruption
- Mental health - The wanting to belong - America's anti-intellectualism - Such as demonising/bullying geeks - The "strong" jocks who pick on those who are smaller than them - The adults who did nothing to intervene, such as negligent parents and teachers who ignored all the warning signs. - America's gun problem of selling weapons to minors and the easy access to such weapons All these things contributed to the psychological damage of the two boys, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who were abandoned by the society they were in which compelled them to carry out the famous 'Columbine High School Massacre.' The real tragedy here is that nobody is prepared to take responsibility for their actions nor acknowledge the consequences. All these things also sounded familiar to me. They reminded me of a play that I came across in secondary school, 'An Inspector Calls' by J B Preistley. What's it about? I think the story takes place around the 1910s, it's about a working-class woman who committed suicide. But nobody knows why. So an Inspector investigates by interviewing those who knew her, and collect information from them, and the Inspector uncovers the truth to what made the woman want to kill herself. It turns out, the people he interviewed, were members of a higher class who each did something nasty to her. One by one, each event was uncovered that lead to combination of events that made the woman want to kill herself. In the end, all the characters who were interviewed felt little to no remorse, but by the time they decide to be a little sympathetic, it's too late. What I liked about this play was that the audience also played a role in the investigation along with the Inspector. As the play progresses, by interviewing the people who knew her, we, the audience build a story around the interviews and characters which gives us clues and build up the story. We all know what happened. But we don't know why. It's a Why-done-it rather than a Who-done-it. A modern tragedy based on real life events. For years I've read about school shooters. And they always had the same problems, a shooting takes place, a lot people and the mainstream media look for movie or a video game to blame it on (today is also social media included in their hit list), and then they call for them to get banned instead of addressing real issues like gun laws, bullying, psychological trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I even wrote a dissertation about it during my university years. It is too easy to blame a bogeyman than to take responsibility for one's own actions and look into the matters that make up the bigger picture. It's human nature. When the Columbine Massacre happened, everyone pointed the finger at video games as the cause of it all. Almost everyone in America were singing from the same hymn sheet repeated to them by the mainstream media; "These kids played Doom. That's why they did it. Video games are the cause of all this. Let's ban it." Despite the countless studies and scientific evidence to refute all the lies spread by the mainstream media, everyone latched onto the lie as if it was doctrine. It is no wonder the problem to this day is still unresolved. This is a modern tragedy. I wanted to write a story about this. But 'How should I tell this story?' I thought to myself. The answer was simple. By way of a play. I'll write my own tragic play that can be performed in a Theatre. A play where people told their perspectives on an event or a person. Inspired by 'An Inspector Calls' I wrote my own play based on a tragedy. This is my own Greek Tragedy. I'm no Shakespeare, but at least I have added Playwriting to my list of Accomplishments. I am proud of the fact that I have contributed to the theatrical landscape. I say with hope, that lessons will be learned.
So here, I present to you, School Shooter. A school shooting took place in a high school by one of its pupils. We all know who did it. But would you dare to find out WHY he did it?
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