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April 15, 2015 5:05 pm

Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

avatar by David Meyers

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The BROKEN graphic.

For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate.

In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, I believe that artists must voice diverse viewpoints in order to provoke a public discussion on the important issues of the day.

From April 9-26, my play BROKEN is receiving a professional production in New York City. The production stars Broadway and Film actor Michael Pemberton (who you will recognize from “Veep”) and is directed by Daisy Walker, who worked on the Broadway production of “Jersey Boys.”

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BROKEN tells the story of a mass shooting, from the shooter’s perspective. In BROKEN, Kevin McFadden hasn’t spoken to anyone since he killed 17 people at a shopping mall three weeks ago. But when a prison doctor takes an unexpected interest in his case, Kevin decides to meet with him – revealing a troubled past that unites them both.

We’ve received some positive reviews, and a few readers of The Algemeiner have already come to see the play.

The first question I am always asked is: why did you choose to write a play about a mass shooter? Certainly, it would be easy to write these people off as abhorrent monsters unworthy of being portrayed onstage. I think that’s the wrong perspective for this reason: How can we ever hope to stop these mass shootings if we don’t understand what motivates the shooters?

Some people believe that these shooters are merely crazy. But a look at people who commit these acts often shows that they possess above-average intelligence, and act in planned, calculated, and thoughtful ways. They may be evil (though my play challenges that assumption somewhat), but many are not crazy.

The play offers no excuse or justification for the shooter’s actions, and it rightly condemns the act as evil, reprehensible, and unforgivable. But it does not cast the shooter entirely in this light. It seeks to find the humanity in the shooter – the pain, the anger, and the hurt we all can relate to. And it seeks to provoke a discussion on what motivates people who commit these acts – and whether we as a society have any responsibility for that.

To me, then, BROKEN is in keeping with Jewish scripture – which never sees things as simply black and white. This is why God sends Jonah to save the wicked souls of Nineveh, and why God agrees to end the Flood.

It would be my honor to have you see BROKEN, and join in this conversation. We have performances every day from now until April 26. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at www.BrokenThePlay.com or BrokenThePlay.brownpapertickets.com. The play runs approximately 70 minutes.

Because of my connection to The Algemeiner and many of you, we are offering $16 discounted tickets for the performances on April 21, April 22, and April 23. To receive the discount code, please email BrokenThePlay@gmail.com and mention this article.

If you do come, please stop and say hello after the show. It will be a pleasure to meet you, and continue the conversation…

David Meyers is Opinion Editor of The Algemeiner.

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  • I saw the production this past Saturday night. It’s a well crafted drama with smart dialogue and twists and turns that don’t let up. In exploring the psyche of the shooter Meyers exposes a psychological dynamic that may be in all of us in different degrees, which are played out with different strategies for coping.

    Don’t miss it. It’s a treat.

  • Julian Clovelley

    Understanding is not congruent with rationalisation. Understanding is what makes it possible to prevent as well as to be warned, to defuse emotion that may lead to violence and conflict. I think the writer is performing an important function in opening out these issues to examination. Drama is one such tool of examination and debate. It is the tool that one of the greatest analysts of human behaviour used to display complex personal and intensely political themes. That, of course was Shakespeare.

  • Pinchas Baram

    sounds like all that pain, angst, tsuris, blah blah blah that the killer has can also apply to Moslem terrorists and Jew killers, and thus rationalize, and mitigate, their evil behavior.

    • Unintelligent

      Very intelligent comment !
      You obviously not from the group of future killers.
      IQ test please

  • Wishing you the best of luck with your play. Sounds fascinating and timely.

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