Thursday, January 30, 2014

"The Warriors": Rhodes Remembers the 1998 West Side Playground Shooting

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 8:00 AM

The Warriors creators Mary Hollis Inboden and Evan Linder
  • "The Warriors" creators Mary Hollis Inboden and Evan Linder

Some things take a while to process. In 2010 the founding artists of Chicago's New Colony theater company were planning their third season when Memphis actor Mary Hollis Inboden blurted out something that not everybody in the room understood.

"I think I might want to do something about West Side," said Inboden, who grew up in Jonesboro but attended the U of M and appeared in numerous Memphis productions including Talking With at TheatreWorks and Anton in Show Business at Circuit Playhouse.

Playhouse on the Square alum and New Colony playwright Evan Linder was a close friend of Inboden's though and knew right away what she meant. He hadn't lived through the terror in the same way she had but having been a junior high school student in the Memphis suburbs he remembered the West Side playground shooting which occurred March 24, 1998.

"At 26, I was ready to talk about the shooting at West Side Middle School and I knew I couldn't do it by myself," Inboden explained in a 2013 interview with the Flyer prior to The Warriors Memphis premiere. "I needed the talent family of The New Colony and the blessing from my childhood friends from the playground that day."

24 of the 35 survivors responded to Inboden with approval and current details about their daily lives as adults, survivors, and parents with their own children to protect. Those details formed the foundation of The Warriors, which is currently being produced by the McCoy Theatre at Rhodes College.

"Evan and I had two rules we followed diligently," Inboden says. "The Warriors would not sensationalize the shooting on my playground and it would not be a story of the actual shooting. In following these rules we created a gentle story of survival, what it means to experience childhood trauma and move forward."

Rhodes revival of "The Warriors," directed by Julia "Cookie" Ewing and Kevin Collier, and performed January 31, and Feb 1 at 7:30 p.m. is a collaborative effort giving the Theatre, Psychology, Anthropology and Sociology departments a common cause. In addition to performances there will be a talkback and lecture. Check below the fold for details.

January 31 and February 1 at 7:30pm: The Warriors with a post-show discussion, McCoy Studio Theatre

January 30 at 5pm: Dr. Matthew Wilkinson, assistant professor of sociology at Coastal Carolina University will speak on Root Causes of School Violence: Confronting the Culture of Incivility

Abstract: The initial response to many high-profile school shootings is to blame the outburst on some pathology of the individual perpetrator. But looking to the individual for explanations obscures the role of the larger social environment, preventing critical examination of a much larger social problem. Research on this problem is shifting from the individual level of analysis to include consideration of the “toxic social environments” of schools.

While school shootings are statistically rare events, countless adolescents experience stressful school environments yet choose alternative outlets for their frustrations. Some adolescents may externalize their problems, through vandalism, bullying, or violence, while others may internalize them, developing anxiety and depression. This lecture explores the causes of school shootings and strategies for coping with such violence.

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