17 Minutes Investigates the Aftermath of a School Shooting—And Who We Blame | Playbill

Related Articles
Playbill Goes Fringe 17 Minutes Investigates the Aftermath of a School Shooting—And Who We Blame

New York playwright Scott Organ on why he brought his play about a uniquely American problem to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Brian Rojas and Larry Mitchell Edward T Morris

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with nearly 3,500 shows. This year, Playbill is in Edinburgh for the entire month in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!

17 Minutes isn't a play debating political policy. It's a very focused look at the consequences of action—and inaction. It's an examination of being faced with the nightmare scenario: a school shooting on a community. Written by Scott Organ, the work follows a sheriff’s deputy, Andy, stationed at the school. When a shooter opens fire, Andy hesitates to enter the building. In the aftermath, he looks for meaning in the wake of the tragic event as he struggles with his own complicity and faces the community.

The Barrow Group presented the play's world premiere Off-Broadway in 2020, and closed as the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading in New York City. Since then, the play continues to be heartbreakingly relevant. Since the first performance of its world premiere, there have been over 140 shootings in American schools. 

Now, the play (and the Barrow Group production) comes to Edinburgh Fringe as the company makes its Fringe debut at Gilded Balloon's Teviot where 17 Minutes plays through August 28. Read why Organ wanted to bring his play to Fringe.

What compelled you to write 17 Minutes?
Scott Organ:
 I've always wanted to write something about the uniquely American problem of gun violence. It was only when I thought of the character of Andy, the protagonist, that I felt I had a unique way in. Andy (played by Larry Mitchell) is a good man faced with a difficult situation. How he acts (or doesn't) has very real implications for himself and an entire community.

It tackles the very real problem of school shootings in America without becoming entrenched in the political discussions about guns. How do you manage to keep them separated? I think the ramifications of gun violence are apolitical. The deaths of children by guns is inarguably a significant tragedy. The grief and loss are also apolitical—apolitical but profoundly human and real, and that's the area I wanted to write about. This human grief and struggle may be inherently apolitical, but their presence could certainly lead to a political opinion and action. 

Why did you want to bring 17 Minutes to Fringe?
None of us have been here (the six actors, director, and writer). We have always wanted to come. Fortunately our stage manager/producer Allison Parker and producer David Calvitto are Fringe veterans) We are particularly proud of this piece and have wanted to remount it ever since we closed in 2020. 

What's been the biggest challenge about performing at Fringe? And what's been the biggest reward?
The biggest challenge for most of us has been navigating this venture as parents, how to make it all work. The biggest reward is working with each other again. Having a month to dedicate to working on this piece with people we love and trust.

What's something you've learned about doing Fringe?
Bring good walking shoes

What show are you recommending people see at Fringe? 
So many great shows! One that particularly touched me was Julia Masli: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

If you’re comfortable sharing, how much did it cost you to present 17 Minutes at Fringe? How did you find the funds?
Our budget is an ever-fluctuating number. WIth a cast of six and stage manager, it wasn't cheap, I will say that. Veteran producer Marshall Cordell joined forces with the Barrow Group Theater to fund this production. We also crowd-sourced some funds back in the U.S. to make this happen.

Today’s Most Popular News:

Blocking belongs
on the stage,
not on websites.

Our website is made possible by
displaying online advertisements to our visitors.

Please consider supporting us by
whitelisting playbill.com with your ad blocker.
Thank you!