DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Play rehearsals are underway at Hillside High School in Durham.
“I would say I’m a little nervous for sure. I just want to make sure it’s right,” mentioned Hillside High senior, Aniya Lowe.
Students are preparing for the opening night for the show “State of Urgency.”
“‘State of Urgency’ is a call to action to stop gun violence. The students are addressing a lot of social justice issues,” theatre director Tiffany Agerston explained. “It’s a balance between what we realize is real and good and what we realize needs to change.”
Agerston said students have been preparing for weeks.
“Knowing that this message needs to be told to our community makes it a lot easier for us to portray,” said Kelyse Raiyel, senior at J.D. Clement Early College.
The message hitting close to home this week.
Two Hillside High students were shot on the American Tobacco Trail near campus. One of the students, a 17-year-old, died. The other, a 15-year-old, was injured.
“After that incident, one thing that has been going through my head this whole week is if our play was maybe a week sooner would the events had played out differently,” Raiyel said.
For Agerston, the play is personal.
“I lost my brother in 2019 to gun violence here in the City of Durham,” she stated. “Because of that we weren’t able to honor him in the way that says we remember you and we love you. But the students giving us the opportunity to do that, giving every family an opportunity to be seen has been major,” Agerston said.
The students hope the play can both heal and educate others.
“Even though that happened, we are overcoming it by performing and putting it all on the stage,” said Lowe.
The first performances for the public begin on Friday, February 17 at 7:15 p.m. For more information on show times, click here.