"I give you a holy word: DISARM."

On October 24, 2014, a 15-year-old invited his best friends to skip class and eat lunch with him in the cafeteria of Marysville Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington. He shot each of them in the head, then turned the gun on himself. There was one survivor.


This piece is part of a group of gun-control plays compiled by Rachael Carnes, in response to the mass-casualty shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, February 14, 2018.

Dedicated to Z, J, G, S, A, and N.


For: 3 female-identifying, 3 male-identifying
Z.G.: female, 2/22/00 - 10/24/14. 14, Latinx
J.F.: male, 7/31/99 - 10/24/14. 15, Tulalip Tribes
G.S.: female, 3/28/00 - 10/26/14. 14, Mixed heritage
S.C.: female, 3/26/00 - 10/31/14. 14, Tulalip Tribes
A.F.: male, 10/10/99 - 11/07/14. 15, Tulalip Tribes
N.H.: male, 14. Tulalip Tribes. Lone survivor.

Run-Time: 5 minutes

Genre: experimental, docudrama

Setting: Marysville Pilchuck HS, October 24, 2014

Production History

2018 | The Palace Theater, Chattanooga, Tn
2018 | Nu Sass Productions, Washington DC
2018 | Commonwealth Theatre Center, Louisville, Ky
2018 | Iowa State University, Ames, Ia


This play is a part of the Playwrights Say Never Again anthology and is also available through the Protest Plays Project.


"Packs a visceral punch."

"In an ambitiously brief five pages, this packs a visceral punch. The language is pithy, propulsive, potent, and poetic. The images are striking and evocative. It's a brief response to a desperate moment in time, inspired by a complex real-life incident, with an urgent and not at all complex message."

- Michael Kras

"Beautiful theatricality."

"Plays are meant to be seen and that is definitely the case with A Holy Word. Henry relies on beautiful theatricality not only in the images of the confetti and drumbeats created on stage, but also in the staccato dialogue that builds to the climactic ending of the play. [...] Gun violence/school shootings are a necessary topic of discussion. However, the theatrical moments Henry creates offer creative/necessary aesthetic distance."

- Rachel Bykowski

"Gripping visuals."

"I am saddened, angered, and frightened that the world I live in has inspired a play like this... but I am hopeful when artists like Jordan Henry take the time to write them. True to form, her gripping visuals and thoughtful use of sound underscore the elegance of her poetic dialogue. A fitting tribute. And a necessary reminder. Read this one. Produce this one."

- Greg Burdick

"Philosophical and gut-wrenching."

"The key to Henry's play is Vonnegut's "holy word" referenced in an epigraph. Something about the missing weapon appeals to the deepest sensibilities. Yet the events still play out. We know why. And how. Philosophical and gut-wrenching."

- Ricardo Soltero-Brown

"Haunting and timely."

"An absolutely haunting and timely piece. There's something here about Jordan's rhythm and the sort of extravagant, impossible, but imaginable imagery she composes that makes this piece completely enthralling. Truly sad, and quickly elegant."

- Michael Perrie, Jr.

"Hauntingly beautiful."

"The sound and imagery of this play is hauntingly beautiful. The drums are a warning and also signal life. And even though each character is shot, all of them have beautiful, meaningful things to say about the shooter, about their friend. There isn't any blame or shame placed on anyone. Which is what makes it an even sadder, more delicate story to tell."

- Keenya Jackson

"Haunting and resonant."

"In this taut, intense short play, Henry's language rhythm and staging imagery invite us to peer through a new lens into an all-too violent world, while concurrently looking deeper within ourselves, as the ones who've shaped it. Haunting and resonant."

- Rachael Carnes