Play Hopes To Stop Gun Violence In Durham

(AP Photo/Colleen Long)

As violent crime, particularly so-called gun violence, continues to increase, people are trying to figure out just how to address the issue. For many, unfortunately, that means pushing for gun control. For others, it means advocating for gun rights. For other groups, it means plenty of other things.

However, in Durham, NC, it apparently means putting on a play to address the issue.

About two hours after students finished their performance of “State of Urgency” Friday night, a play at Hillside High School aimed at addressing gun violence, Durham Police responded to a deadly shooting only a few miles away in the 1000 block of Drew Street.

“I think it’s very important that a lot of our community sees students addressing these issues in our society and our city, instead of just hearing a lot of it from adults. I think hearing it from the kids, they’re pleading for help to stop gun violence, Black-on-Black crimes, supporting Black Lives Matter,” said Omari Scott, Hillside High’s student body president and a performer in the play.

The play also featured the perspectives of family members of gun violence victims, including Z’Yon Person’s grandmother. In August 2019, 9-year old Z’Yon was shot and killed in Durham during a drive-by shooting while in the car with his aunt to get snow cones.

“It’s got to stop somewhere,” his grandmother exclaimed.

Oh, I agree, it does.

However, it’s not going to so long as the best efforts anyone can do is to put on plays, for crying out loud.

Look, I understand local theater, including high school theater. The theater community here in my town is fairly tight, and my wife is knee-deep in that community, which means I’m involved as well.

What I understand is that those who show up to a play are generally not the people you need to reach when you’re trying to curb violent crime. Sorry, but that’s just not happening.

They’re out there shooting people.

So why have a play about it? The term is “virtue-signaling.” It’s putting up a signal that everyone involved has the right opinions and that you should favor them for making those opinions known.

This isn’t going to do a damn thing.

Now, understand, a play can be a useful tool for actually making a difference, but that only applies if you know your audience is full of people who need to get the message. Talking about struggles with mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and a whole host of other topics are ideal fodder for theater messaging and may move people in the audience to take a look at their own lives or to sympathize with people they’d previously only looked down on.

But is there anyone who simply can’t sympathize with those who lose loved ones to violent crime?

That means the only people you need to reach are those who are actually part of the “gun violence” issue, and I assure you, they’re not going to plays. If you want to reach them, music or video games are likely to be of more use, though I’m not sure how you can do that in a game.

Still, all that said, if it makes those involved feel better, then I guess that’s something. I just wish they’d take some of that energy and actually get to work doing something that would actually reduce violent crime.