NORFOLK, Va. - It’s lights, camera, action at the University Theater at Old Dominion University. But when it’s time to cut, reality sets in for students off the stage.
They attend the Governor's School for the Arts in Norfolk. Steve Earle is the chair of the theater and film department.
“This year was the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, so that’s when I thought we should do a show in honor of the students who have lost their lives in school shootings," Earle told WTKR.
They honored the victims with an educational stage play called "Locked Down."
“They had hopes, they had dreams, they had things they liked and didn’t like and didn’t have a chance to grow into the adults they could’ve been," said Jacob Costello, a junior at the Governor's School.
In this docudrama mainly written by students, they are telling the stories of victims, survivors and the families involved in school shootings through monologues, scripted scenes and their own personal accounts of what it’s like to go to school in 2019.
“Lockdowns and school shootings is the era we’ve always grown up in, and so it’s become our normal. We’ve almost become desensitized to it," said senior Capri Manfred.
Laura Rodriguez is a sophomore. She was 9 years old when a shooter opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
“I remember how devastated my family was, and that was the first bit of reality that hit me at a young age," she said.
With any kind of play you’re going to have numerous script revisions, but the students here tell me that for "Locked Down," they had one too many for all the wrong reasons.
“Since that time, we’ve had to change the number of dead and injured and the number of school shootings because they keep happening," says Earle.
Now, students hope their performance will give the audience perspective on what it’s like to go to school every day.
“I want them to leave with the idea that something has to change," said Manfred.