The Events, Play About Aftermath of Violence, Will Feature Live Choir at Every Performance

By Carey Purcell
16 Jun 2014

The Events, David Greig's 2013 play about the aftermath of a deadly shooting, will make its American debut June 24 at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, CT, the New York Times reports.



The New Haven performances precede the play's New York premiere at New York Theatre Workshop, where it will begin performances in February 2015 as the final addition to the Workshop's 2014-15 season. Ramin Gray will direct.

The play is fictional, but it was inspired by the real event of Anders Behring Breivik's killing of 77 people in Norway in July 2011. A bombing in downtown Oslo killed eight, and 69 more were killed in a shooting at a youth camp on the Norwegian island of Utoya.

"This is a wound not to individuals and families, but beyond, to a community. It's terrible to think that it has happened to another set of people," Greig told the Times. "The really sort of unbearable thing is that these events appear to happen, and we appear to be unable to stop them from happening."

The Events premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it received a Fringe First and the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award.

The play follow a small-town minister and community choir leader named Claire who is the survivor of a violent tragedy: A young man walked into a choir rehearsal and opened fire, killing many but sparing her. The play takes place months after the event, when the killer is imprisoned, and Claire longs to understand his mind.

In the show, a woman plays the role of Claire, and a male actor plays several other parts, including the killer. The cast also includes a choir functioning as a Greek chorus, observing, singing, chanting or speaking scripted lines.

Greig met with director Gray at the Traverse Theater's bar in Edinburgh, and they discussed creating a play responding to the Norway tragedy. The two visited Norway, where they met people affected by the murders but struggled with how to present the story. After seeing a local choir perform, they were inspired to utilize a choir as a way to present the show. In each of the cities The Events has been performed, local community choirs have been featured.

"It's a logistical challenge that we are going into with our eyes open," Jeremy Blocker, managing director of New York Theatre Workshop, told the Times. "Not only does it make the theatrical event special, but it gives us an opportunity to engage with the community in an active way that is, for me as a producer, really exciting."

Greig's written works also include The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart, Midsummer [a play with songs] and the book for the musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.