As the 5 year anniversary of the Virginia Tech Massacre approaches, students from all fields of study gather together to commemorate the tragic event with Erik Ehn’s play What A Stranger May Know. The play itself focuses on the lives of each victim rather than discussing the violence of the massacre. Each Whittier College student will be reading a play about one of the 32 individuals whose lives were lost. No one play will be the same. This event will be a truly unique watching and listening experience. According to Ehn, “The performance functions as a kind of zen-garden in language – an experience that audience members navigate for themselves, moving through a field of readings, slowing to meditate on the lives of the lost, leaning into commemoration as best we can across the great distances in our human family.”
The students and I who are participating in What A Stranger May Know rehearsed for the very first time today. It was a powerful experience to say the least. Standing outside with all the other students and reading the play was incredible. Upon reading the play for the first time, I found it to be slightly difficult to understand. But the more I read and researched my character, I began to see the true beauty behind the text. As I read the play out loud, I became entranced.
Today, it was interesting to hear the plays being read simultaneously because when everything was put together, the play became more than a series of words with complicated syntax and allusions, it became a relaxing garden of sound, beauty, and poetry. Throughout this process, I felt deeply connected to my “memorialee” and her story. I think this will be a great experience for people to come watch and listen.
The event will take place on Monday April 16, 2012 at 12:30 p.m. near Founder’s Hill and the Campus Inn. Hope you all can come out and share this beautiful experience with your fellow Poets. I will try to get video and pictures of the event up as soon as I can.