An unnamed journalist in a warzone.
A friendly translator in his homeland.
Together, they cover the story of a lifetime.

That’s the story of A Report of Gunfire boiled down to the essentials. It’s a script I wrote for the 2008 Capital Fringe Festival, developed from a ten-minute short from the 2006 Louisville Playwrights Festival. (You can actually see that version at the Gunfire website. A version of this ten minutes became the first scene of the full-length version. But this short is about a very different journalist in the end.)

The artwork for the show seemed simple. I’d been wanting to do something with a Saul Bass flavor to it for a while. (If you don’t know who Saul Bass is, well, as Bugs would say, “For shame, Doc. For shame.”) The initial idea was a single bullet hole, with a gush of red pouring out. This did not work. It looked like a strange nun, maybe a Christmas tree gone horribly wrong.

Take two. This is the one that worked.

A road, a body, three bullets for three characters who die during the story. The colors make reference to the old “what’s black and white and red all over” joke. And the tagline, “In times of war, silence can be deadly,” ties in to an anecdote the journalist tells about how sometimes the silence is scarier than the noise. The play plays with sound and silence throughout, both literal and metaphorical.

And what about the title of this post? We used the Neptunes’ remix of Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones, albeit without the ambient noise at the beginning of this clip. It was a nice jolt of noise in the dark and silence at the very end of the play.

You can purchase an audio version of A Report of Gunfire here, produced by Know Theatre of Cincinnati, featuring James Creque as the journalist, directed by Zach Robinson.

If you’d like to purchase a Kindle edition of the play, here you go.