Death of the American Teenager
Created by the company with music composed by Penelope Marantz Caywood
Youth Theatre's Conservatory Utah
It is difficult to imagine the continuing trauma of school shootings in the United States. The statistics we hear in the early part of this show are terrifying enough.
“There have been 408 school shootings in the last ten years, 35 so far this year… an average of sixteen lockdowns / intruder drills in schools per year.”
That last one is an understandable response to the gun crises, even when students are sometimes not told it is a practice rather than the real thing. But it generates a very special fear and anxiety that most of us will never experience in our lives.
Death of the American Teenager gives us a glimpse of that chaotic moment of stress.
There is the panic of reaching a secure location, the doubts about a barricaded door being able to stop a determined intruder, the desperate texts to friends you hope are safe, the nervous conversations while crouching beneath desks or standing on toilet seats and the constant worry that any sound might draw the attention of some unknown assailant.
Even afterwards, there are the signs of trauma. Tears roll down the cheeks of a teacher, classmates speak to each other with sudden emotion.
No young person should have to grow up in such a climate of anxiety.
This confident, well-performed play, gives us many good reasons for demanding an end to the anarchy of guns in America.
A surprisingly hopeful mood dominates the show, particularly in the uplifting songs that are influenced by American folk music, though I suspect their very funny satiric hoedown would infuriate the average member of the National Rifle Association. But then if the NRA had listened to the wise words of these performers, there would certainly be fewer gun deaths in America.
Reviewer: Keith Mckenna