Polytechnique shooting: Play from shooter's perspective restaged for anniversary

To make sure no one forgets, Adam Kelly Morton becomes the shooter in a powerful, one-man show he is bringing back to the stage on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the shooting.

Adam Kelly Morton plays the Montreal massacre shooter

Morton plays the role of the Montreal massacre shooter in a one man show, The Anorak. He wrote the play in 2000 for a Master's degree in Acting from York University. (Alexandru Steau)

To make sure no one ever forgets, Adam Kelly Morton becomes Marc Lépine.

His one-man show, a monologue recounting the events leading up to Dec. 6, 1989 from the shooter's eyes, is returning to the stage for three performances on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the shooting. 

Lépine fatally shot 14 women, mostly female engineering students, at the École polytechnique de Montréal before taking his own life.

The title of the play, The Anorak, is taken from the hooded parka Lépine wore during the shootings and then wrapped around the barrel of his rifle before shooting himself. The gun was too hot to handle.

I do it because I’m afraid the massacre will be forgotten.- Playwright and actor Adam Kelly Morton

For Morton, each performance is dedicated to reminding us about the event.

"At the time of the anniversary, it always gets into my head again. I do it because I’m afraid the massacre will be forgotten," he said. 

“I get lots of calls and emails whenever there’s a school shooting. The play is working towards some answers, but asking the questions is the artist’s job.”

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Questions, he says, like how does this happen? Why in schools? Why almost only men in the same age range? Why are they from broken homes? Why do shootings like this seem to be on the rise?

Morton has performed The Anorak at universities and colleges in Ontario and Quebec. This summer, a British theatre company staged a performance of the play in London and a Portuguese translation is in the works.

It’s always been a money-losing project for Morton, except for what he earned advising Quebec director Denis Villeneuve on how to integrate Lepine into his feature film, Polytechnique.

At the performance men and women are separated into two sections. For most of the performance, Morton speaks only to the men in the room.  He faces the women only for the account of the shooting in the Polytechnique classroom.

Audience members leaving Saturday evening’s performance in Montreal were troubled by what some saw as lack of support for mental health and by the self-centered ruminations of the young man.

“There were times when I was listening to him talk that I wanted to tell him to snap out of it," Rona Nadler, a young woman in the audience, told me after the performance. 

"Poor you, acne and no girlfriend. Come on man, grow up."

Morton performs The Anorak on Dec 4, 5 and 6th at Montreal Improv Theatre B Space at 3713 St-Laurent Boul.