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Sandy Hook Massacre Inspires Provocative RMU Play

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pittsburgh, Sept. 23, 2014 – For the first time, Robert Morris University’s Colonial Theatre program will perform a full-length, original production – and a play written by a student to boot. The university’s production of Remembrance, an original play written by senior English major and Honors student, Tanner Sebastian, will run from Oct. 2-4 in the Massey Theater at RMU’s Moon Township campus.

remembrance-1The play follows a family struggling with the question of how to grieve for someone who has done the unforgivable after the youngest son shoots and kills 14 people, including himself and his mother. Sebastian wrote this story after the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, when he noticed that the media did not recognize Nancy Lanza, the mother of shooter Adam Lanza, as a victim in the massacre. 

“Twenty-eight people, including Adam and Nancy, were dead, but we were asked to remember 26,” says Sebastian. “I wondered how the surviving Lanza family was feeling, and Remembrance developed from there.”

Sebastian’s hope is to force his audience to consider the parents of perpetrators of these horrible crimes. Too often, people unfairly blame the parents for what their child has done.

“They did not raise their child to do this, and yet they get an unnecessary stigma at a time where they need support and acceptance,” he says. 

Sebastian understands that almost all playwrights worry about how people will accept their work, and he is ready to take on the controversy and even antipathy his play may generate. 

“I know this story carries with it intense emotions and I expect some backlash,” he says.

Remembrance is directed by RMU associate professor of communication, Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre, who also serves as Sebastian’s Honors thesis advisor. 

“When Tanner told me that this idea scared him, I knew that it was one he needed to explore. The resulting work is both beautiful and full of pain,” says Burgess-Lefebvre.

The RMU production features a cast of six RMU students: Patrick Hanlon, Abby Shepherd, Noah Scholder, Braelin Andrezejewski, Raymond Lamont Sims, and Bobby Tramontina.

All performances are at 7:30pm and tickets are available at the door for $10. Email lefebvre@rmu.edu for further information.