It’s been less than a year since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 students and staff died in the attack, leaving both the school community and the entire country unsure of how to move forward. The new HBO documentary “Song of Parkland” shows how the school’s drama department returned to school in the wake of the tragedy to put on a production to help unite the school. In addition to chronicling the efforts of the students to finish the production, the film also follows a number of Stoneman Douglas classmates as they became prominent activists throughout the rest of 2018. In addition to working to finish the last of their rehearsals, the newly released trailer for the film shows the students marching in demonstrations.
This latest project at the intersection of theatre performance and national tragedy comes just three years after Lloyd Kramer’s film “Midsummer in Newtown.” Premiering at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, that project followed students from Sandy Hook Elementary School auditioning for a revamped production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in the wake of the 2012 shooting that brought their school to national attention.
The students’ work looks to be the focus of the film, but “Song of Parkland” also features Stoneman Douglas drama teacher Melody Herzfeld as she rallies her class to finish the show they started. (“It is the most important show that you’re doing, probably ever,” she tells a packed stage.) Herzfeld was eventually honored at the 2018 Tony Awards, where she won the Excellence in Theatre Education Award.
“Song of Parkland” comes from Amy Schatz, director of the Emmy-winning “An Apology for Elephants,” which also aired under the HBO Documentary Films banner.
Watch the trailer for “Song of Parkland” below:
“Song of Parkland” premieres February 7 on HBO.