OU Division of Theater Presents ‘The Library’< < Back to
Amid five scattered tables and 10 strewn chairs, books laid on the stage illuminated under harsh stage lights Monday night in the Forum Theater. For each book, a name, and for each name, a young life lost to violence.
This is Ohio University Theater Director Shelley Delaney’s The Library, an insightful and emotional look into the nature of school violence and all it encompasses. The production, written by Scott Z. Burns, presents a different view of mass shootings that society tends to overlook: the aftermath.
Drawing heavily upon the Columbine High School massacre, The Library explores grief, uncertainty, trauma, denial, trust, commercialism, religion and media bias. Delaney digs deep to draw forth elements often forgotten after the cameras stop rolling and the news outlets stop reporting.
As the survivors of the school shooting depicted in the production try to pick up the pieces and move on, tensions arise in the form of blame, seemingly pitting a teenage girl against an entire nation. Where one Cassie Bernall-inspired voice becomes a martyr, the other becomes a pariah in a show of the complexities of human emotions and how society as a whole processes shooting rampages and the deaths of children on school grounds.
In one poignant line, a mother speaks “…We exchange pain for reasons, reasons for hope. It’s all we ever do.” This line packs a powerful punch in an age of growing controversies and conspiracies surrounding these events in which grief is exchanged for rumors and unfounded ideas that do significant damage to the surviving victims and affected communities.
“As you might imagine, The Library contains images and content that might disturb some audience members,” said Delaney. “That said, there is more violence on the nightly news… I’d encourage people to stay and see how the play and production might impact the way they see the world around them. I don’t want anyone to turn their eyes away from violence. I want audience members to read past the headlines, I want people to see the show and play closer attention to the people around them who are troubled and may need help. I want every school shooting to register on every audience member’s conscience—not just the mass shootings. I want the audience to know more about the victims than the shooters. I want the show to awaken empathy, and I want empathy to lead to action.”
Delaney said inspiration for the production began to take root following the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings, in which 20 children between the ages of six to seven were murdered in a gun massacre in Newton, CT.
“Like most of the country, I was deeply shaken,” said Delaney. “With every school shooting I feel helpless. Helpless to make my own teaching environment safer.”
Performances of The Library will be Sept. 28, Oct. 1, Oct. 5-8 at 8 p.m. in the Forum Theater in the Radio & Television Building (Kanter Hall) on South College Street. Talkbacks will take place Oct. 1 and Oct. 5.
Through Arts for Ohio, tickets are free for OU students with a student ID. Regular tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for other students and seniors. For more information and reservations call 740-593-1780, or stop by the Fine Arts Ticket Office on campus located at the East Union Street entrance of the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium, Monday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.