I only heard about the After Orlando series because my aunt was one of the playwrights featured and she told me about it. I wish it had been more widely advertised because it was an extremely powerful event. After Orlando is a set of readings from different plays all written after the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting. It was very moving to hear them all in succession because they discussed the shooting from a variety of perspectives, including those at the club, their family members, and an owner of a gun shop. The readings were made even more meaningful because some people I know participated in them, including our own Thomas Baker and Neil Patel.
Although my friends were just actors, so I could get some necessary distance from the stories, every person who died in that club meant something to someone outside, from classmates to friends to family members to lovers. It is so easy for us to think about victims as just a number, but everyone means something to someone. One play that I found especially powerful did discuss what it means to be the “worst” shooting and why we feel the need to “rank” tragedies that occur. The 49 deaths spread to affect hundreds and maybe even thousands of people who knew them and loved them. I think it’s really important for artists and writers to use their platforms to talk about issues that matter in our world today.