Hillside High School to bring back gun violence play 'State of Urgency'

WTVD logo
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Hillside High School to bring back gun violence play
A play previously met with great reviews is making its way back to Hillside High School. It's called State of Urgency.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A play previously met with great reviews is making its way back to Hillside High School.

The play is called State of Urgency, and it's all about addressing gun violence.

Durham County Sheriff's Office is joining forces with Hillside High School's drama department to put the play on again. It last ran back in 2021 to high praise.

The play's revival comes on the heels of continued mass shootings in America and violence in the Bull City, and the universal response in the community is that this violence must stop.

"You're absolutely right. There is no one thing that would end gun violence or each of us would have done that thing, but we do believe that each of us has a role to play," enior Executive Director of Student Support Services for Durham Public Schools Dr. LaVerne Mattocks-Perry said.

Mattocks-Perry said reviving the play will be considered a success if it advances the conversation around gun violence and engages students in bettering their lives.

"We will measure our success by the number of students and teachers who are not only engaging in the preparatory work in advance of seeing state of urgency, but also those who continue to engage with students services teams, with other members of the Durham public schools, community, the arts community, in efforts to board all the negative impacts of gun violence in our community," Mattocks-Perry said

According to the ABC11 Neighborhood Safety Tracker, Durham saw 47 homicides in 2022. The hope of everyone helping put on State of Urgency is to see that number drop.

"These kids have tremendously strong voices, and I'm hoping that peer to peer young person to young person, that that message will resonate with them," Sheriff Clarence Birkhead said. "They can be on the stage. They can be a professional. They don't have to resort to a life of crime, and there are other people who are like them that are doing some really good stuff in our city."

State of Urgency will run from February 15 through 19.

A representative of the school district said plans are in the works to make performances available to students during the school day, in an effort to reach as many students as possible.

"We're going to find a way...to make sure that every teacher who has a class and every student who needs to see this has access to this play," Mattocks-Perry said.

WATCH | 'It's got to stop somewhere': Pleas, play aimed at curbing Durham gun violence

Through mid-September, while the number of shootings was down in Durham, deadly shootings had sharply increased.