Tarlton said when he brought the idea of the play to LAB! Theatre company, it originally was about a college newsroom like The Daily Tar Heel talking about a conservative statue like Silent Sam. With each draft Tarlton made, the story changed into something different.
“I was thinking of what I could do and how I could contribute to the conversation around gun violence, around gun control, around these school shootings that kept happening,” Tarlton said.
Tarlton’s research for writing the play included reading news articles surrounding the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, looking up information about the March for Our Lives student demonstration, his own experiences and talking with his sister who is still in high school.
“When I was in high school three years ago I never really thought about the possibility of a shooting occurring when I would go to school every day — and she kind of was saying ‘I have to think about that every morning,'" Tarlton said. "'Every morning that our mom drops us off, that’s on my mind.'”
Mckenzie Wilson, a recent UNC graduate, is working as the director of "lockdown."
“It was like this story that we’ve heard about high schoolers coming together uniting in passion and personality and people and finding themselves,” Wilson said. “But the twist on it is that this play has guns and life isn’t just about finding yourself, there’s a lot more at stake for high schoolers now, a lot more danger and violence and shit and terror.”
The play’s empathetic human story attempts to give a more emotional element to the highly politicized issue of gun control.
“I want people to realize this is a real life thing, it’s not an article you read, it’s not a headline, it’s not a political debate — I mean, it is and will continue to be, but I mean, these are kids and these are people and at the end of the day not every kid is a Parkland activist who is going to demand change,” said Wilson.
Lauren Toney is an student acting the part of Madeline in the staged reading of "lockdown."
“As a student I can say I don’t think the big enough changes are happening to prevent these things, so hopefully those people who do sit in the audience and watch this will take that perspective and understand that it’s not a news headline, “ Toney said.
“It’s your kid, it’s your kid’s friends, it’s your nieces and nephews, this is real people and they’re hurting and being affected by this, and if we don’t do anything it’s just going to keep getting worse and worse.”