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LIT 401: A SCHOOL SHOOTING IN ONE ACT (a play and discussion) opens tonight at Shea’s Smith Theatre

On April 16, 2007 at Virginia Tech university, a 23-year-old student killed thirty-two fellow students and faculty members and wounded another seventeen students and faculty before committing suicide. The incident is the third-deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in modern U.S. history. In terms of deaths, it is eclipsed only by the 2017 Las Vegas shooting and the 2016 Florida nightclub shooting.

Did you know that half of the ten most deadly mass shootings in United States modern history occurred in the last three years? And 7 of those 10 happened well into the 21st century, or during the lifetimes of most current high school students. Those young people are speaking up with the #NeverAgain movement since the recent (February 14, 2018) Parkland High School shooting. This week it’s not only high school students and their parents, but the entire community, who are invited to see a drama called LIT 401: A SCHOOL SHOOTING IN ONE ACT intended to spark discussion about what we can do to prevent school shootings in the future. The organizers feel strongly that the real heart of the production will be the conversation after the curtain, when the performers and directors reappear to discuss what everyone, actors and audience, just experienced.

LIT 401 is the co-creation of two former SUNY at Buffalo theater students, Drew Piatek and Gordon Tashjian, who, back in the days before social media, felt that they needed to respond to the Virginia Tech shootings with the tools that they knew best: live theater followed by open discussion between actors and audience. Shortly after the Parkland shootings, and ten years after LIT 401’s first production, they launched a GoFundMe campaign and put forward their personal resources, called upon their actor friends, and tonight are remounting their drama, which will involve actors playing active shooters. And some of the scenes will be emotionally intense.

The organizers feel that it’s the discussion after the play that is equally important to the drama.

But again, the organizers feel that it’s the discussion after the play that is equally important to the drama: “This production has in the past given the community a place to discuss and explore the issues concerning school shootings, in hopes of finding ways we, as a community, can engage to ensure these tragedies don’t happen.” Co-author Piatek also said that audience will have a chance to decide to which non-profit the proceeds should be donated.

Supported by a number of local Buffalo theater people “LIT 401” opens tonight, Thursday April 12 at 7:30 at the small stage called “The Smith Theater” right next door to Shea’s Buffalo. The play runs Friday and Saturday at 8, and closes Sunday April 15 at 2:00 p.m.

A recent story about this play on local NPR affiliate, WBFO, revealed that we will see a variety of situations and responses by the characters on stage with which many will be able to identify.

THE BASICS: LIT 401: A SCHOOL SHOOTING IN ONE ACT, a play written and presented by Drew Piatek and Gordon Tashjian runs April 12 through 15, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8, Sunday at 2 at Shea’s Smith Theatre, 658 Main Street.

www.sheas.org/productions/lit401

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For over 20 years, as a producer and program host on WNED Classical (94.5 FM), he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?" These days Peter can be heard regularly on Sunday afternoons from 1 to 5.

On “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?" As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take."

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he was an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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