Photo Flash: First Look at Oregon Children's Theatre's COLUMBINUS

Sparked by the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, Oregon Children's Theatre's columbinus is a meeting of fact and fiction that explores the events surrounding the shootings and brings to light the dark recesses of American adolescence. This powerful ensemble production, drawn from interviews, police evidence, and the private diaries of the shooters, offers a thoughtful look at the events of this tragic day which still resonate 16 years later. Scroll down for photos of the cast onstage!

Presented by OCT's Young Professionals (YP) Company, the play features an ensemble cast of archetypal characters navigating the struggles of adolescence. Two of these characters, "Loner" and "Freak," are revealed in Act II to be Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the teens responsible for the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.

Thom Hilton, who plays Freak/Eric Harris, says, "We all know that these were people who existed, so to watch this play and say, 'These were people who lived this, who died through this, and they're just being labeled as the stereotypes that we're confronting every day' -- it's a really disturbing and interesting choice on the writer's part."

But columbinus shows that there is more to the story than the tragic shooting. "It pulls back the curtain, and you discover that all these kids are human, like you," says Emma Younger, another cast member.

Members of the Young Professionals Company advocated for OCT to select this play because of the opportunity to present challenging work which tackles relevant and mature subject matter. The play also gives teens a voice in a conversation that is often dominated by adults. After bringing a special reading of columbinus scenes to Benson High School, the actors engaged with students in a conversation addressing gun culture, school violence, and the need for interpersonal connection between young people.

Josh Weiner, a government studies teacher at Benson High, said of the visit, "I could see that some students who are usually very disengaged were totally into the reading and the discussion afterward."

Younger agrees: "I always saw theater as a way to teach and learn -- the power that these worlds and these stories have to educate is fantastic."

columbinus was written by Stephen Karam and PJ Paparelli, with contributions by Josh Barrett, Sean McNall, Karl Miller, Michael Milligan and Will Rogers, created by the United States Theatre Project in 2005.

OCT's production is directed by Lava Alapai and features Thom Hilton as Freak/Eric Harris, Blake Peebles as Loner/Dylan Klebold, Carter Bryan as AP, Charlotte Karlsen as Faith, Dan Martin as Jock, Amber Mitchell as Perfect, Isaiah Rosales as Prep, and Emma Younger as Rebel. The play will also feature an original score composed by YP company member Tristan Comella.

YPs are also active behind the scenes: Lena Breda is the Directing Apprentice, Katie McLoughlin is the Costume Assistant, Emma Stewart is the Lighting Apprentice, Mikala Capage is the Set Apprentice, and Haley Ward is the Assistant Stage Manager. The Documentary and PR Teams consists of Maya Barbon, Bryce Duncan, Nora Pearson, and Zoe Stadler.

The show runs tonight, April 10-April 19, 2015 (April 10th sold out!), playing Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:00 pm, Sundays at 1:00 & 5:00 pm at Young Professionals Studio Theater, 1939 NE Sandy Blvd., Portland. Tickets: $12 advance purchase, $15 at the door. Box Office: 503-228-9571 or www.octc.org. Due to subject matter this show is recommended for ages 15 through adult; ages 13-14 allowed only with a parent.

Photo Credit: Pat Moran

high res photos

Photo Flash: First Look at Oregon Children's Theatre's COLUMBINUS
The cast of COLUMBINUS

Photo Flash: First Look at Oregon Children's Theatre's COLUMBINUS
The cast of COLUMBINUS

Photo Flash: First Look at Oregon Children's Theatre's COLUMBINUS
The cast of COLUMBINUS

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