“Some take slabs of skin or locks of hair, little trophies to remember the rush of the kill. Not me though. I take their voices.” -Voltrage
14 Symptoms is a play written by Corinne Nulton, a senior English major at the University of Scranton. Last week, a reading of the script was done for a group of university faculty members, the English department, consultants at the writing center, and Esprit members. The reading featured Jim Shygelski as the narrator, Xiomara Rolan as Sam, John Camilleri as Kruse (Voltrage), Bri Kelley as Kimmy, and Timmy Flynn as Cam. It was a “Cold Reading,” meaning the five readers had never seen the script before, but successfully voice-acted through the unusual textual format that mimicked IMs.
Assuming the script was a romantic comedy of some sort, I was struck by surprise when I discovered it was a deeper, tragic story. A thriller, if anything. I was further surprised when Corinne explained to me her play was actually an adaptation of real events.
“I was taking an adaptations course last year at this time and as a homework assignment, I had to find an article that horrified me and write a scene based off of it. I found the Vanity Fair article, and it told the story of Kim Proctor, who was eighteen years old and bullied in high school, but her parents came home one day and found her gone. She was killed by her two ‘best friends,’ Kruse and Cam,” she explained.
I looked up the article shortly after speaking with Corinne, and was shocked at how gruesome a story it really was. Kimmy Proctor was a normal teenager who spoke to Kruse and Cam, two disturbed teens, via World of Warcraft chat rooms. Kruse, whose father was a serial killer, always felt destined to be a murderer himself, and acknowledged that he possessed the fourteen symptoms of a serial killer, meaning he was statistically too mentally unstable to exist. He and Kimmy dated for a while, but when she broke things off something inside him snapped, and together he and Cam plotted against her. A short time later the boys raped and killed her before mutilating and burning her body.
“But when I was researching this, what’s more horrible is that they couldn’t figure out who killed her. It was Kruse’s internet girlfriend, who, when he had been bragging about the crime, finally went to the police.”Apparently, she did not take the confessions seriously at first. Corinne continued, “The girlfriend delivered the chat logs to the police, but refused to testify against Kruse claiming she still loved him. Apparently what she felt for him was real because she refused to testify, which is kind of weird because it’s like a collision of realities? Feelings are real but words aren’t.”
Corinne continued, “Another really horrible thing when I was researching this was, everything was posted online, so I had Kimmy’s original chat logs with Kruse and Cam…I had access to an audio file where Kruse was arguing with his mom out of prison…I saw the maps that they used to determine where they were going to put the body…it was just really horrible.”
Corinne admitted to having severe nightmares throughout the writing process, and, after reading the article myself, I don’t blame her. But after reading the script a second time, I was impressed by how much of the article she was able to incorporate into her adaptation. There is a slight mention of Kimmy’s love of rabbits and obsession with her Ouija board in the article; both things have a scene based off of them in the play and link the fictional world of the play to the tragic events that occurred in reality.
The script itself is presented in a unique way: it is told mostly from the point of view of Kimmy’s friend Sam as she tries to discover the story behind Kimmy’s death. Sam bribes Cam to hack information, Cam plots with Kruse to cover up the murder, and Sam unknowingly chats with Kruse, discovering the horrific crime. The audience follows Sam as she pieces together the mystery of her best friend’s death bit by bit, and the unique-chat-room-format of the play keeps everyone engaged at all times.
Corinne’s 14 Symptoms has been in the works for about a year, and is likely to remain in progress for a few more months. The reading last week was actually the second reading the play has undergone, and the majority of dialogue in the script had been changed in a few short months. Likewise, there are still revisions to be made. Corinne and Catherine Fischer, the director of the play, intend to have the first stage production of the play in February. Until then, the script will undergo more changes and the actors will receive tips and instructions for their characters. The finished product will definitely be worth checking out, and I wish Corinne the best of luck in her future endeavors.