Virginia Tech Creative Writing

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This kid is bad news.” Early in the script, several professors gather to discuss the student. “I mean, that’s not really what we’re talking about, is it? On the first day of rehearsals, Julia Cho told her actors the play they were about to begin working on wasn’t about the Virginia Tech shooting. “I didn’t want to come into the first day of rehearsal and start a conversation with the actors and the director where it’s ‘let’s tell a story about mass shootings or why they happen or how they happen,’” said Cho in an interview.

“I mean, I think that’s obviously what the play is about.

What stands out isn't the violence or the alienated attitudes of the main characters, it's the complete incompetence of Cho as a writer.

If it weren't for the fact that Cho just brutally butchered 32 people, will be pored over by scholars for decades to come.

Since then, and to some extent because of that incident, most colleges and universities have added a “multidisciplinary process,” like a care team or response team, that bridges all the relevant campus resources.

Some sort of “centralized mechanism” that allows campus police, mental health counselors, the administration and other departments to approach a situation collectively.

“It opened this door back to my own experiences teaching in grad school,” she said.

“I didn’t have troubling students like that, but I could imagine being a teacher in the higher ed environment -- you do come into contact with students with different needs.” In her play, called it’s unclear whether an unsettling student, to put it mildly, just needs a little help, a lot of help, an empathizing professor or a straitjacket.

In the aftermath of the massacre, the professor talked about how Cho’s writing caused many students to drop a poetry class, and others wrestled in news articles and essays with the right approach for handling a worrisome or even frightening student.

It was in reading one of those essays that Julia Cho’s new play about school shootings began to coalesce.


Comments Virginia Tech Creative Writing

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