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A Line in the Sand

About

Playwright's Note | Mission Statement | Production History | Schools

Playwright's Note

On April 20th, 1999, at Columbine High School, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher, before killing themselves. They wounded 24 others. I, like so many Americans, was shocked and deeply disturbed watching the media coverage that horrible day. I felt I had to do something. So, I flew out to Littleton, Colorado to talk to members of the community. Over the span of a year, I made seven trips, and I spoke with more than 60 people, including injured students, a young woman who was friends with both the killers and one of the victims, the parents of the only African-American student who was murdered, police officers, the pastor at the scene, teachers, and reporters.

The entire text of the play is taken from my interviews, except for the words of Eric, Dylan, and one of the victims, which are taken from their journals. There are twenty-six characters in the play.

In 1999, immediately after the massacre at Columbine, I felt a line in the sand had been drawn that our country would never cross again. Unfortunately, since 1999, there have been more than 200 school shootings in the United States.

This has become a national epidemic and our new normal. Our society seems content to observe the violence, but takes no effective steps to end it. I had hoped that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT would have been a tipping point for Americans to take action. I feel A LINE IN THE SAND is more relevant now than ever and that this play has the power to create a dialogue, which is the first step toward awareness and social change.


One of my goals with the play is to help students understand the personal impact of gun violence and bullying. Theater has the unique power to not only make students think, but to make them feel empathy in an immediate and intimate way. Empathy can lead to positive change.

 

Playwright's Note | Mission Statement | Production History | Schools

Mission Statement

The mission of my work with A Line in the Sand is to try and make a difference by starting a dialogue about how we can stop this national epidemic of school shootings. Too many young people have died from this senseless gun violence. An average of 8 young people die per day in the U.S. from gunfire. We must make a change. We must admit there is a problem, and then look for solutions together.

Every performance of the play is followed by a post-show discussion with students, educators, and parents about the many issues raised by Columbine, including bullying, cliques, easy access to guns, parenting, violence in the media, conflict resolution, and how to build a more compassionate school community.

Some positive actions we can take:

Join a local gun violence prevention group
Spend more time talking with our children
Schools can work on building a more compassionate community
Work on conflict resolution skills
Limit exposure to violent media
Help to make mental health resources available to all

My goal is to reach as large an audience as possible of both young people and adults.

We all need to work together to keep our children safe. For many years, I have performed A Line in the Sand in theater festivals and in high schools. I would like to perform at colleges and universities as well.

 

Playwright's Note | Mission Statement | Production History | Schools

Production History for A Line in the Sand:

  • New York International Fringe Festival (August 2001)

  • Edinburgh Fringe Festival (August 2003)

  • Estrogenius at Manhattan Theatre Source (September 2004)

  • Artists of Tomorrow Festival, New York City (November 2004)

  • Foothill Theatre Company, Nevada City, CA (October 2006)

  • Midtown International Theatre Festival, New York City (July 2007)

  • Moondance International Film Festival (2009)

  • United Solo Theatre Festival (2010)

  • Stop Gun Violence NOW Theater Festival (2012)

  • Planet Connections Theatre Festivity (2014)

Playwright's Note | Mission Statement | Production History | Schools

Schools that have seen A Line in the Sand include:

Summit High School (NJ)
Murray Bergstrom High School (NYC)
Bronx High School of Science (NYC)
Parsippany Hills High School (NJ)
Alfred E. Smith High School (NYC)
Lewis Mills High School (CT)
William H. Hall High School (CT)
Glastonbury High School (CT)
La Jolla Country Day School (CA)

After school programs:

re:Action (New Yorkers Against Gun Violence)
at The High School for Public Service and at Community League of the Heights (CLOTH)

For the post show discussions at the Midtown International Theatre Festival in 2007, we had  several panels of experts with the following speakers:

Edie Smith, Director Million Mom March NYC
Jackie Kuhls, former Executive Director New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV)
Vilma Torres, Director Families of Homicide Victims Programs at Safe Horizon
Andy Pelosi, Executive Director Gun Free Kids
Vida Toppin Mother of gun violence victim
Allison Asher Montclair High School Alumna and member of SFAST (Students for a Safer Tomorrow)
Frank Scandale, Editor The Bergen Record
Nicola Bocour Reaction Youth Program at NYAGV
Caroline Donovan Montclair High School Alumna and member of SFAST
Kim Rittberg, Associate Producer Inside Edition
Ralph Larkin, Author Comprehending Columbine
Debbie Larkin Conflict resolution specialist

At the Stop Gun Violence NOW Theater Festival in 2012, we had several panels of experts with the following speakers:

Andrew Woods, Executive Director Communities That Care (Hartford, CT)
Ashley Marinaccio, Co-Founder and Artistic Director Girl Be Heard
Jessica Morris, Co-Founder and Executive Director Girl Be Heard
Jackie Rowe Adams, Founder and Executive Director Harlem Mothers SAVE
Hakim Yamadi, Executive Director Save Our Streets, South Bronx
Christopher Ryan, Head of the Violent Crimes Unit Manhattan D.A.'s Office
Leah Gunn Barrett, Executive Director New Yorkers Against Gun Violence
Po Murray, Executive Director Newtown Action Alliance
Wendy Syzmanski, Chapter Head, Greater NYC Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America
Marie Delus Moms Demand Action
Kim Russell, National Director of Outreach Moms Demand Action
Jamie Abelson, Deputy State Coordinator Organizing for Action
Donna Dees Thomases, Founder Million Mom March
Vilma Torres, Director Safe Horizon
Neil Heslin Father of Newtown victim, Jesse Lewis
Dr. Robin Goodman A Caring Hand Billy Esposito Foundation
Anne Santa, School Psychologist The Bank Street School for Children

 

Playwright's Note | Mission Statement | Production History | Schools