San Diego, CA--- According to ‘Slate’ “as of 10/07/13 roughly 26,578 people have died from guns in the U.S. since the Newtown Shootings”. The earth stopped revolving on its axis on December 14, 2012 when twenty children and six adult staff members of Sandy Hook Elementary School were massacred. The shooter shot himself.
How quickly we forget. How quickly we grow immune. How quickly we give in to the drivel. Back in Oct. 2006 ten Amish schoolgirls from Nickel Mine Pennsylvania, were shot; five died, five others were seriously wounded. The shooter killed himself.
The death toll from shootings between 2006 and 2012 alone has to be astronomical. But we grow deaf, dumb and blind, unless of course we are personally involved, knew a victim or were related to a victim.
Mo’Olelo Performing Arts Company is presenting “The Amish Project” by Jessica Dickey, a fictionalized reimaging of this tragedy through Oct. 20th at its 10th Avenue Theatre. This time, however, it’s being told through the eyes of the victims in the aftermath of the tragedy. In her notes Dickey concludes that ‘it is her wish not to hurt any of those involved, but to honor the goodness they forged in the face of such a tragedy’.
You won’t want to miss this experience as it is being given a stunning tour-de-force performance by Iliana Carter with deft direction by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg.
In “The Amish Project” Carter morphs into Anna: a fourteen year old Amish girl and victim of the shooting, Carol Stuckey, the 31 year old widow of the shooter (she has two school aged sons), America, a 16 year old pregnant Hispanic girl who works at the local grocery, Velda the 6 year old sister of Anna, Sherry local a 53 year old resident of Nickel Mine, Bill North a non-Amish and scholar, friend and spokesman to some of the Amish families affected and finally Eddie Stuckey, (AKA Charles Roberts) the gunman: “I wanted to have the girls! But the police arrived so fast-I don’t know how-so fast-I didn’t get to have the girls. So I shot ‘em. ...I shot ‘m! Each one. In the head. Then I shot myself”.
Carter so easily moves from one victim to another that if it weren’t for the fact the she physically moves from one side of the simple set designed by David E. Weiner to another, or downstage, or draws on the simple chalk board it might be difficult to know she is in another character’s mind set at first glance. She also uses her different voices for the changes in characters.
She is a virtual chameleon as takes on the role of Stuckey’s wife, Carol after giving a command performance of 6-year-old Velda explaining to us what the best letter in the alphabet is and what it looks like. Small voice, stick figures representing her family and then an explanation of the clothes she wears. (Jennine Galioto) Segue to Anna and her description of her family, “Mama only hums when she doesn’t know you’re there, but she has a nice voice”.
Anna: “Sir, please shoot me first.”
Carol with a cigarette, in one heartbreaking voice after she learns that her husband was the shooter: “You can swear in front of everyone you have ever known that this person—this person before you-- is The One. You promise to stand by them and love them, and nurse them and give them pleasure, and let them nurse you and give you pleasure… Right there-- cheap tux, white dress, swear in front of your family and friends. Don’t make it true.”… “The boys seem kind of numb. I sometimes think they’re the ones who are dead”…”They’ve learned to trust only each other now”.
Velda: “Please, shoot me second”.
Powerful is an understatement when hearing Dickey’s words and witnessing Carter’s conviction to move an audience. As the piece moves from one character to the next finally concluding with and dealing in the aftermath of the tragedy, it’s clear that Dickey wrote the piece not so much to emphasize the tragedy of the shootings but to bring home the power of healing through forgiveness.
I know it’s preaching to the choir when those opposed to gun regulations choose not to listen to facts about gun violence. Bring someone who is on the fence and perhaps the message and this excellent theatre piece will change minds. It’s worth a try.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through Oct. 20th
Organization: Mo’Olelo Performing Arts Company
Production Type: Performance Art
Where: 930 10th Ave, San Diego, CA92101
Ticket Prices: $15.00-$40.00
Venue: 10th Avenue Theatre