Elliot Rodger

Manifesting a murderer’s mind

"Manifesto," taken from the words of Isla Vista spree killer Elliot Rodger's writings, replays a violent loop in search of meaning

Read the news on any given day and there’s either a shooting or an anniversary of a shooting. It’s not easy to become numb to the violence, but keeping up with it is demanding. The six degrees of separation theory keeps us tied to events. I knew someone running in the Boston Marathon when the homemade bombs went off. My childhood friend lives in Connecticut and texted me about the Newtown tragedy. Another friend was taking his small children to see Santa on the fateful night a few years back at Clackamas Town Center. We may not all have the same geographic or personal proximity, but the shootings can echo through our own lives.

Manifesto, a one-person performance created by Sam Reiter, Solveig Esteva, and Emma Rempel and performed by Reiter, is a claustrophobic rollercoaster ride through the mind of a spree killer. It begins with neglected human elements and maps a course from irrational traps to bloodthirsty rage.

Sam Reiter as mass killer Elliot Rodger. Photo: Solveig Esteva

You might remember the story. Manifesto is an adaptation of the real words left behind by Elliot Rodger, an isolated 22-year-old in Southern California who carried out the Isla Vista killing spree of May 23, 2014, murdering six people near the campus of the University of California Santa Barbara before killing himself with a gunshot wound to the head.

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ArtsWatch Weekly: Berlin stories

Andrea Stolowitz's "Berlin Diaries," world premiere at the ballet, new on stage, Brett Campbell's music picks, lots of links

The corner of culture, art, and politics is a busy intersection these days, when suddenly each seems to have something significant to say about the others, and so Andrea Stolowitz’s new play Berlin Diary, although it deals with events three-quarters of a century ago, also seems very much of the current moment.

Stolowitz, the Portland playwright and Oregon Book Award winner, spent a year in Berlin on a Fulbright scholarship retracing the steps of her “lost” Jewish family, those stuck in the archives after her German Jewish great grandfather escaped to New York City in the late 1930s. Shortly after, he began to keep a journal to pass along to his descendants, and it’s that family book that prompted Stolowitz’s sojourn in Berlin and the construction of this play.

Playwright Andrea Stolowitz, creator of “Berlin Diary.”

The past comes forward in recurring waves, touching futures as they unfold. “It’s not easy to get a Berlin audience to laugh at jokes about the Holocaust,” Lily Kelting of NPR Berlin wrote when Berlin Diary premiered there last October. “But American playwright Andrea Stolowitz manages to do just that in her latest premiere at the English Theater Berlin.” Kelting continues: “She says that writing the play has helped her realize that the guilt of surviving the Holocaust was a secret that ultimately tore her family in the States apart — even generations later.”

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