Orphaned ‘Columbinus’ finds a home

Huntington to host high school play

By Brock Parker
Globe Correspondent / February 25, 2011

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

Text size +

Her principal called the play inappropriate for Lexington High School and abruptly canceled it, but student Emma Feinberg has landed a much bigger stage for her production of “Columbinus.’’

Feinberg, 17, a junior at Lexington High, said yesterday that she has reached a agreement to stage three performances of the play about a high school shooting at the Huntington Theatre Company’s Calderwood Pavilion in Boston’s South End April 15-17.

“I never would have thought in September that I would be directing at the [Calderwood Pavilion] at 17 years old,’’ Feinberg said. “I would have never, ever thought in a million years.’’

Feinberg had been trying to find a venue to stage the play about the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colo., since January, when Lexington High principal Natalie Cohen canceled performances at the high school.

Feinberg had been given the go-ahead by the school’s performing arts department last September to stage the play, and she held auditions and was about to begin rehearsals when she was told the play had been canceled.

Cohen said a parent called Superintendent Paul Ash to complain about the language and content, and Cohen then read the entire script and agreed the language and violence were inappropriate for performances at the school.

When the members of the Huntington Theatre Company read a story in the Globe last month about Feinberg’s effort to find a new venue, associate producer Bevin O’Gara said the company reached out to the teen and offered to donate space in its Roberts Studio Theatre in the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts.

“We just felt that she should have a chance to show the work that she’s been doing,’’ O’Gara said. “We’re beyond thrilled to be doing this for her.’’

O’Gara said a new play by “Columbinus’’ co-author Stephen Karam will also be premiering in the Calderwood Pavilion’s Wimberly Theatre in April. The Huntington Theatre’s artistic director, Peter DuBois, will be directing that play, “Sons of the Prophet,’’ O’Gara said.

She said she has already been trading e-mails with “Columbinus’’ co-writer PJ Paparelli, who told the Globe last month that the play had been performed by at least 100 high schools across the country. The play ran off-Broadway in 2006. Paparelli said that the only other time he is aware of of a school canceling the play was several years ago at Boston Latin School.

Feinberg said she wanted to stage the play because it changed the way she thinks about school shootings and students.

While the play includes harsh profanity and a partial reenactment of the shooting at Columbine, she said she does not feel the material is inappropriate for students at the high school.

On April 20, 1999, two seniors, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, shot and killed 12 students and one teacher before taking their own lives in one of the worst school massacres in US history.

Feinberg said a new “Columbinus’’ cast consisting of current and former Lexington High School students and other actors has begun rehearsals and will move them to the Calderwood Pavilion in the weeks before the performance.

“I’m very excited and a little bit nervous, as I probably should be,’’ she said.

Brock Parker can be reached at