In 2013, a multitude of voices, including those of WestConn students, joined together to tell a tale of grief and healing in the aftermath of a mass shooting. Put on as part of Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe, Scottish playwright David Greig’s “The Events” follows the journey of Claire, a small town minister who survives a mass shooting that leaves several of her choir members dead. Claire becomes obsessed with the killer’s motivations. Soon, her mental state becomes tormented and volatile. WestConn students were recruited to help form the show’s chorus. Students were at the festival to perform an adaptation of Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata” by WestConn Professor of Theater Sal Trapani. “Every time [‘The Events’] goes into a new area, they use local choirs. It’s one of the hallmarks of the show. The chorus is a character in the show,” said Trapani.
Grieg based the show on the 2011 mass shooting committed by Anders Breivik in Norway. Breivik was a white nationalist who opened fire on a group of teenagers and young adults who were attending a summer camp run by The Workers’ Youth League, the youth arm of Norway’s Labour Party. The attack killed sixty-nine people. A bombing Breivik committed hours before at a government building in Oslo killed an additional eight people.
The show was of particular importance to WestConn students, who were still reeling from the Newtown shooting, which had taken place only a few miles away from campus. “The Newtown tragedy was very much a part of our campus life for a long time. So the play was a piece of theater that very much impacted us like no other people who were involved as a choir,” said Sal Trapani.
Choral music has a special power. It works by uniting human voices in harmony and having them work as one to create something of beauty. “A choral piece can really uplift and inspire an audience,” said Trapani. The show was a huge hit at the festival, selling out its entire month long run.
WestConn students also joined the show when it came to New Haven during the International Festival of Arts and Ideas last June. “It was wonderful for students to do it again. We also got some new students involved,” said Trapani.