A Dallas Theater Company Needs Your Shoes To Honor Victims of Gun Violence

Teens with Cry Havoc Theater Company spent their spring break on the East Coast with mothers whose children were killed at school, friends who survived, and politicians at a juncture when it comes to guns. Hady Mawajdeh of KERA traveled with the group. They’re devising a play called Babel based on the interviews they conducted. It’s set to open July 6— a day before the second anniversary of the shootings of Dallas police officers downtown— as part of the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s season of the Elevator Project.

Words aren’t all Cry Havoc is collecting. Founder and director Mara Richards Bim sends word about a public art installation they’ll use to express how many lives will be lost to gun violence between January 1 of this year and the night of the play’s opening. Pairs of shoes will represent each person who died, or who dies, in the piece, titled The Cenotaph. Richards says this idea came from the shoes on display at the end of a walk through the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The people who wore them died at concentration camps, and the shoes were taken from the sites of their deaths. The installation is the only one at the museum that visitors can smell, a museum volunteer quoted in this Washington Post piece noted, describing the fumes.

Cry Havoc can’t know how many pairs they’ll need. On an average day, 96 Americans die as a result of gun violence. They’ve settled on an estimation of 8,000 in their call-out for men’s and women’s lace-up shoes and children’s shoes of any style.