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Play confronts memory, terror of Columbine High School massacre

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

DENVER -- Five years after the Columbine High School massacre, a theater group is confronting the horror with a play that suggests what went through the minds of killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold once the shooting stopped.

"It is by far the most challenging thing I have had to do," said actor Brian Lewis, a 27-year-old veteran of a dozen shows at Denver's LIDA Project who plays Harris. Mike Holzer, 24, portrays Klebold.

"I could sense the discomfort of the audience when we came close to them," he said, referring to a scene in which the teens play a video game on the front edge of the stage. Audience members turned their eyes away from the actors.

"Bingo Boyz: Columbine" moves forward and backward through time and attempts to re-create what happened before Columbine, the day of the April 20, 1999, massacre, and afterward. The play's name was drawn from reports that the teenage killers said "bingo" as they killed.

The two-act play was based on scenes created by the 15-member LIDA Project ensemble from a box full of files about the massacre, which occurred barely 15 miles from the downtown theater. The scenes were edited and turned into a script by director Robin Davies and dramaturge Tami Canaday.

Past, present, futureThe play opens with a dozen cast members squirming on the floor with sirens blaring. There are cries about shots being fired. Harris, carrying a mock Tec-9 semiautomatic, and Klebold with a sawed-off shotgun, soon stalk the floor; students and a teacher hide.

Flashbacks follow, including an incident in which Harris is tossed around the floor by an athlete. (Both teenagers had complained of mistreatment by athletes.) As their rage escalates, they talk about getting a gun and finding someone they hate enough to kill. Then they kill.

Most interesting are the fictitious snapshots of what might have been said after the shooting stopped.

"Nothing went right, did it," says Harris.

"Not exactly," says Klebold.

"There was nowhere near 250 dead," Harris says, with an air of disappointment.

There also are discussions by teenage girls who say it was kind of cute the way the boys played off each other. The news media's intense coverage is targeted with a kid literally spun around by a TV correspondent demanding answers.

"These shows don't bring crowds," Davies said. "We do stories that need to be done. Others won't do them because they don't want to take risks."


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