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'Way Too Soon': Residents Upset About Roseburg Play


A deadly shooting in October 2015 at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, left 10 people dead, including the shooter.

A deadly shooting in October 2015 at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, left 10 people dead, including the shooter.

John Rosman/OPB

Less than a year ago, 10 people died in a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg. It was Oregon’s largest such shooting.

The shooting inspired a controversial play that some residents decry as insensitive. A petition to ban the play — running this month in Philadelphia — has collected more than 2,000 signatures. 

“When we first heard about it, that a play had been made about our town, it was just a punch,” said Hannah Miles, a student at Umpqua Community College who was in an adjoining classroom during the shooting. “It’s very hard. Honestly, it’s painful.” 

The play, titled “Roseburg,” ties Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 visit to Roseburg and his speech on gun control with the shooting.

Philadelphia-based playwright and director Ginger Dayle said that she did not visit Roseburg while writing the play. 

Dayle said her play is meant to examine the wider issue of gun violence. 

“There’s some sort of pattern that’s happening that we’re not addressing in this country that we need to,” Dayle said. 

She added residents misunderstand her play, which focuses more on the shooter’s motivation than the rest of the town.

“The majority of these people have not even read what the play’s about,” Dayle said. “They seem to think that freedom of speech does not apply when it comes to their own personal tragedies.”

Miles agrees that Dayle is within her right to put on the performances, but that she does so at the expense of the Roseburg community. 

“We need time. It’s only nine months. I just think it’s way too soon,” said Miles.

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