Shelby is a young woman who a short time ago was living her normal life to the fullest. It is her senior year of high school and she is preparing for her role of Gertrude in “Hamlet.” She’s a theatre kid. She sees theatre as her safe space, a place where everyone is accepted and appreciated for who they are. So much so that she considers her theatre group her family. It is moments in our lives when we are not even thinking that in a moment’s notice everything can change, and it did. When one of the other theatre students shares his love for another and it is not a mutual feeling. Justin disconnects from reality. He obsesses over the love he has for Cynthia so much so that he brings a gun to school- into their theatre class. Shelby recounts everything that leads up to the mass shooting as well as her time after. The recovery. The guilt of being alive while juggling the hate she has for Justin and the anger that she can’t shake. Shelby’s life is very different now. After being shot in the face she lost her hearing and had to learn how to do so many things over again. Learning to swallow the right way and all things after were a challenge that she overcome. Learning sign language is now what she spends a lot of her time focusing on, a step forward so she can own her life again, a piece she had lost in her theatre class that day. A story of a strong person, fighting the most difficult fight of her life, figuring out how to live again when surrounded by death.

(*The performer can be anyone, but they will need to do some basic sign language.)

Watching the Dominoes Fall

  • (Scene opens with Shelby. She is twenty years old and she stands in front of a mirror practicing sign language. She isn’t great at it, still makes mistakes but seems determined. She struggles a bit with speech. She has a damaged cheek that has been reconstructed. She talks as best she can. *She’s not great at signing yet but additional words may be signed should the performer decide as long as it tells the story.)


    (Signing) “The boy with the bat can run (messes up, repeats) the boy with the bat can run really fast. (Pleased, again) The boy with the bat can run really fast.” (To herself still trying to sign) Nice job Shelby you can definitely tell a little boy with a bat that he can run fast. (She laughs, to audience) This is all very new for me. (focusing on her hands) It has been a hell of a year and a half. If I knew then what I know now? (laughing) God if I knew then, I would’ve told my eighteen-year-old self not to go to school that day. I would have done what so many of my senior friends had done all year, I would have lied to my parents and told them that I didn’t feel well, waited for my parents to leave for work, and met up with my friends for breakfast. It was my senior year. Some people say that’s one of those milestones, your senior year… the first best year of your life. (Beat) But you truly don’t know until you’re on the other side of it. Until one minute you are standing behind the door of your theater class ready to play a prank on the next person walking in and then you find yourself on the news. Definitely not how I thought I would end my senior year.