AOL News has scans of two of Cho’s plays, Richard McBeef and Mr. Brownstone available. The English major evidentially was noticed by classmates. T. Rees Shapiro of Collegiate Times interviews a classmate.
Stephanie Derry, a senior English major at Virginia Tech, was in a 3000 level Playwriting class with Cho Seung-Hui this spring semester taught by acclaimed professor Ed Falco.
She described Seung-Hui’s conduct in classes and how all the clues had been there, but could never imagine his bizarre behavior would ever materialize into these recent destructive events.
“Cho was really, really, quiet,” Derry said. “I can’t even remember one word he said the entire semester.”
“We were in a playwriting class together, which is a workshop class, meaning you submit your plays to everyone in it and then we all review the play in class and talk about it,” Derry said.
“His writing, the plays, were really morbid and grotesque,” Derry noted. “I remember one of them very well. It was about a son who hated his stepfather. In the play the boy threw a chain saw around, and hammers at him. But the play ended with the boy violently suffocating the father with a rice krispy treat,” Derry said.
“He even wrote one play about students being stalked by a teacher.” Derry said.
“I mean, his kind of writing was pretty peculiar, but when we asked him if he had any comments after we’d reviewed his work, he would just shrug and say nothing,” Derry described.
“We made jokes around the class about his work, because it was just so fictional, so surreal, we just had to laugh,” Derry said, “We had to laugh because it couldn’t ever be real or truthful, I mean who throws hammers or chainsaws around?”
“But we always joked we were just waiting for him to do something, waiting to hear about something he did,” Derry said. “But when I got the call it was Cho who had done this, I started crying, bawling.”
“I kept having to tell myself there is no way we could have known this was coming,” Derry described. “I was just so frustrated that we saw all the signs, but never thought this could happen.”
Expect the same kind of reaction that occurred post-Columbine – there’s going to be a school-led dragnet to try and “catch” dangerous children by parsing their writing assignments with a fine-tooth comb. Other than ensnaring hundreds of teens in a legal mess I doubt that the coming “thought police” backlash (and it will come) will make schools any safer.