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Life, death of Columbine victim inspire one-act play

By Charlie Brennan
Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer

 

The life and death of Columbine shooting victim Cassie Bernall have inspired a dramatic presentation that debuts next week.

Crossroads at Columbine, penned this summer by Christian playwright Alan Behn, will be previewed for the media Tuesday. Five performances for the public will follow Nov. 19-21 at South Sheridan Baptist Church in Lakewood.

The one-hour, one-act production draws substantially on the best-selling book She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall, authored by her parents and released by the Plough Publishing House in September.

The book, a redemptive tale about the power of tough love, has sold more than 200,000 copies nationwide.

Jason Janz, youth pastor at the church and coordinator of the play, said the church's teen youth group first responded to the killings at Columbine High School by producing a 20-minute audio tape -- funded by donations -- featuring many of the group's members offering tributes for victims of the April 20 tragedy.

Donations collected for those tapes so far exceeded their cost, Janz said, that he began looking for ways to use the money.

"By then, Cassie's story had hit the press, and I thought maybe we could do a drama about her life that youth groups around the country could put on," said Janz.

Plough helped arrange for Behn, a Christian dramatist from Northland Baptist Bible College in Dunbar, Wis., to fly to Colorado in early July. Behn finished a script by Sept. 1.

The title of the book, She Said Yes, relates to a story that surfaced after the 15 Columbine shooting deaths. Witnesses said that Cassie, 17, was asked by Dylan Klebold whether she believed in God.

Several witnesses said Bernall answered "Yes" as she prayed under a desk. He then shot her.

In recent weeks, investigators have said there are other library witnesses who disagree whether such an exchange took place.

The play does not depict the actual Columbine shootings. Its focus is much more on the turmoil of Cassie's early teen years, and her evolution into a young woman more accepting of her parents' love and Christian doctrine.

Admission to local performances is free. But tickets must be obtained in advance either by calling 303-347-0809 or logging onto www.columbineplay.com.

There is one show at 7 p.m. Nov. 19, and two shows on Nov. 20 and 21, at 2 and 7 p.m. each day.

November 2, 1999