Back in the swim of classes, which is a great pleasure. Efforts today focused on updating the Virginia Tech project…

Below is the boilerplate minus the list of participants – haven’t vetted all partners for public release just yet.

Soulogrpahie-wise –

Will be in NY Sept 16-17, with the 17th especially free to meet/talk about the project, if you’d like to get together…


Dear Team:


A note updating the progress of the Virginia Tech memorial performance (What a Stranger May Know)…


Below – schools that have suggested there is a way forward, then schools that expressed interest in discovering a way forward. At the end of this email, I reprise the invitation for some few of you on this list who are new to the thread (if you want a look at scripts, let me know; if any of those team-members already aboard need a full set of scripts, let me know that too).


A reminder that the commemoration (the morning of April 16, ideally between 7:25 and 9:50 am) can take the form of a partial reading, through a full production (some of these options are outlined in the invitation…).


If you would like to talk more about next steps – let’s arrange for a phone conversation or a visit. We can set up schedule by email and move through progressive levels of immediacy!


Thank you so much for your collegiality here. If you have recommendations for further outreach – please pass those along!


We are working very closely with Virginia Tech, in full gentleness. We won’t announce intentions there until all parties have signed off, but – conversations are rich and ongoing.


If you think I’ve missed someone, or have included someone in error on the lists below, please let me know.


Have a great school year,








Dear All:


As some of you may know, I’ve been working on a commemorative project around the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech. The core of the memorial are 32 plays, one for each of the people killed by the shooter (who is remembered in a separate series of plays). The 32 scripts are meant to be played simultaneously, in a large open space; much of the text loops, occasionally all 32 pieces sync up. There’s a substantial amount of music. The audience is invited to walk through the language; a garden in text.


My hope is to collaborate with college campuses around the country to present the piece on the morning of April 16 2011, the fifth anniversary of the event.


The project can be done with minimal rehearsal, as a reading, or with substantial rehearsal. However it’s done, we create interlocking circles of fellowship-in-contemplation.

At minimum, the project asks for 32 readers, who could be given a set of basic instructions the day of the presentation that would help with issues of timing. To this could be added pre-recorded music (we are working with an independent body of musicians on compositions; all the music will be composed by this body prior to April 2012). Moving up a scale of collaborative energy – the 32 pieces could also add a witness – one who sits with the reader as auditor. Beyond this, live music could be added (playing the scores submitted by the compositional team). Each play also includes dance or movement; these sequences are un-choreographed at this point, and it is imagined that they will be developed at the participating schools.

So there are versions that could be done with 32 or 64 people and an hour’s rehearsal; versions with 96 (or more, depending on the size of the number of musicians), plus additional choreographers, and substantial rehearsal. Beyond either end of this spectrum – just a few of the scripts could be read (our smallest presentation featured just two scripts), or at maximum – a marching band (there’s a musical event in the first half of the piece that invites this orchestral approach).

Another partial approach could be to do just the songs, or some of the songs…


The title of the piece is “What a Stranger May Know.” The material is drawn from the public record; what is the space of civic mourning? The language attempts to give our empathy (our compassionate reasoning) a particular job, given the giant obstacles to detailed knowing.


Is this something for which you think there may be a way forward at your school? Thoughts on other partners?

I attach four of the thirty-two scripts, selected at random.


Let me know if I can further clarify the way they work.


Much peace,



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