Murder, They Wrote

Surrounded by the darkness of the H-F theater, students were engrossed by the captivating tale of a murder trial gone wrong.

Serial is a story about Hae Min Lee, a 19-year old Korean woman, who disappeared and was found dead in a forest four weeks later. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was accused of murdering her and was given a life-sentence with an additional 30 years.

The high school’s play is based off of a podcast’s telling of this true story that is 12 episodes long and 12 hours long. The school’s version is only 12 short episodes long and is co-directed by J.R. Rose and senior Maggie Sullivan.

“I was on a road trip when I listened to it all the way back from Florida and I was just so engrossed in it and I kept thinking about how it was such great storytelling and you really felt for the characters…,” said Rose.

This podcast inspired the English teacher to make it a play because most of the characters in this heartbreaking story were “surrounded by a typical day in high school,” Rose said.

“We actually cut the real transcript from the Serial podcast so everything we said was completely true and from the original podcast itself,” Sullivan said. “It was originally 156 pages of the main character talking for most of it and we cut it down to 47 pages.”

Each student was divided into 12 groups so they could each participate in the making of Serial. Not only did they shorten the script, each of them came up with their own ideas to make the mystery play more of a mystery.

“We used pictures, articles, and anything we could find on the case to inspire us with ideas,” junior Laila Malak said. Malak played 3 different roles, Casey Murphy, Katie Clifford, and Laura Sandanoval.

Serial ends on a cliffhanger, leaving the audience in awe and wondering if the ex-boyfriend really killed Lee or not.

“As enraging as cliffhangers are, we wanted to tell the story as it truly is and there truly is no ending now,” senior Madeline Moxley said. Moxley played Sarah Koenig.“I think it’s important to tell the story as it really happened, because these are all real people who were dealing with real issues.”

The play was filled with piles of evidence and ended with the audience having to decide if he was innocent or guilty.

The murder of Lee occurred in 1999 and events like these are still happening at high schools all over the country. People just don’t know about it.

“I think it (Serial) showed that crime is not just something that is on tv….Some people might never go through life and experience tragic happenings like this. So we forget that murder and other horrid crimes are real,” Sullivan said..

In today’s world, we have trouble understanding other people’s cultures.

“Many teens don’t know what it’s like to grow up with immigrant parents in America,” Malak said. “Now of course that’s not a bad thing, but there are going to be some problems those kids will face because of their background.”

In other words, a case from 18 years ago is remembered for, not the act of violence on the terrible night, but for Hae Min Lee, a girl who was honored for her incredible life.