2017 Viola Award Nominee for Excellence in the Performing Arts
“Exceptional performance! High school students dealt with difficult material with sensitivity, understanding and talent. The performance stimulated discussion in the community among youth, parents and professionals.”
From the Director, Mike Levin:
“I have directed over 100 productions at FALA. We have tackled difficult material over the years: Dead Man Walking, Frontera, The Laramie Project, Next to Normal. Never has a show been more difficult than columbinus. Never has a cast been braver than those 12 students. What was it? They are very close to the lives of the characters: tormented teenagers.
“I gave them permission: to cry, to talk, to stop rehearsals, to go for walks, to love. It all happened. There is a scene where Freak goes on about how much hatred he has. It’s too much. Rehearsal stopped and I went outside. I believe we rehearsed the library scene a small handful of times: it was too much. And, mercy, we cried together. Many times. We also laughed a lot …. Not so much in Act Two, but in Act One, we laughed. Through the process, I have never experienced a cast that loved each other to that degree. That we journeyed to the heart of darkness in order to love each other and others more.
“Just three days before the show, Crystal Miller, a Columbine survivor who was in the library on April 20, 1999, came and talked to FALA. We cried as a school together. And much of the audience cried together at the performances. Then we went into the world and were a little changed. Catharsis.
“I constantly push to the young artists toward greatness. When I sit and watch the productions with an audience, I am able to objectively see the performances for what they are. Columbinus was a daring play by a brave, hard-working cast, and coupled with Grace Kennedy’s stunning visuals, it was a breathtaking show.
“Even now, months later, when I think about the 12 actors in the room and the work they did, I get teary-eyed. That work. They rocked the sauce.”