Play tells story of school shooting survivor

January 6, 2013 8:49:31 PM PST
Mary Hollis Inboden watched as five students were gunned down in front of her at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas in 1998.

Sunday night a reading from her play about surviving that attack served as a benefit for the people of Newtown.

The 26-year-old actress said she had two rules for the play. One is to not sensationalize it. The other is to not make it about the shooting itself.

Sunday night's show was at times sad, but more often it was funny. It's a story of survival she hopes can transfer to those still grieving in Newtown, Connecticut.

How do you deal with the unthinkable? Survive. Move ahead, move on into adulthood? Before Newtown and even before Columbine there was Jonesboro, Arkansas. It was March 24, 1998.

"I was twelve years old when two of our classmates entered our middle school, pulled the fire alarm getting us all to exit and when we were outside, on the playground, they started shooting at us," Hollis Inboden said.

Five were killed, 10 injured at Westside Middle School. Physically, the now Chicago-based actress was unhurt. But on the inside it was a different story.

"I created this play called the warriors that speaks to what it is to survive and not be a victim of something," she said.

First staged in 2011, The Warriors tells Mary Hollis Inboden's story, and that of her surviving classmates.

After the shooting in Newtown Connecticut's Sandy Hook School last month, she and the show's producers wanted to do something to help, so they brought the play back.

The proceeds of Sunday night's one-time reading at Lincoln Park's Victory Gardens Theatre will benefit the families and survivors of Sandy Hook.

"I saw this show when it originally ran a couple of years ago. And I definitely wanted to be here to support this cause," said Sam Snowden.

"I think it's a really beautiful tribute and a really wonderful way to share this experience with other people," said Mary O'Connor.

And while Sunday night was the only reading scheduled in Chicago, nationally two more theatres have expressed interest in hosting their own fundraiser performances of The Warriors.

Meanwhile, as of Monday, the play itself will be put online as an open source document. The hope by giving it away, royalty free, others will want to produce and stage it to raise money for Newtown as well.


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