In response to and support of the March For Our lives and National Walk Out Day, Northampton High School Theater, Stephen Eldredge, director, in collaboration with Eggtooth Productions and Hilltown Productions will present Lauren Gunderson’s play Natural Shocks on Friday, April 20 at 7:00 PM in the auditorium at Northampton High School. Tickets are by donation at the door to benefit Everytown for Gun Safety/Moms Demand Action.
Inspired by Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Natural Shocks follows a woman as she shelters in place during a tornado and wrestles with a dark secret that needs to come out. Written specifically for April 20, the day of the National Walk Out and the 19th anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High School, Natural Shocks explores the issues of gun violence and domestic abuse in an intense, funny and disturbing play.
Said Gunderson, “I was a junior in high school when Columbine happened in 1999 and it spurred me into activism instantly. I wrote an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shaming the NRA and their spokesman Charlton Heston, who were holding their annual conference only an hour away from that mourning community. I organized a student protest at the GA statehouse; I went to Washington to speak to my Senators. I was berated by our local conservative radio talk shows: called ignorant, naive, and un-American. I was 17, a teenager like all those amazing kids in Parkland who are taking up the cause of their lost classmates and making the biggest difference in this issue I've seen in my lifetime.
Nineteen years later here we are, another school shooting, but finally a freshly invigorated and seemingly unstoppable movement brewing. I happened to be working on a new one-woman play based a bit on Hamlet - called Natural Shocks - about a quirky, chatty woman with a dark truth she needs to share. I was just starting to send it out to trusted colleagues when the Parkland school shooting happened. And I saw how brave and tireless and convincing these kids were in saying "no more gun violence." And then I read that the most vocal of them were theatre kids…..So now the play is yours.”
Ethan McSweeney directs actress Piper Goodeve in this one-woman one-act. In the second half of the evening, the students of Northampton and Amherst Regional High Schools perform a small musicale of numbers they have chosen to reflect on recent events in the spirit of hope, change and activism.
Composer Jenny Giering has organized the event and will offer the premiere performance of an original song written for the evening. Said Giering, “We hope all who care about this important issue and yearn for change will join us for this exciting, inspiring event celebrating our students and their role in shaping the society we share.”
Lauren M. Gunderson is the most produced playwright in America of 2017, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award, the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, she is also a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s 3-Year Residency with Marin Theatre Company. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU’s Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. Her work has been commissioned, produced and developed at companies across the US including South Cost Rep (Emilie, Silent Sky), The Kennedy Center (The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful And Her Dog!), Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The O’Neill, The Denver Center, San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre, Synchronicity, Berkeley Rep, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, Crowded Fire and more. She co-authored Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley with Margot Melcon, which was one of the most produced plays in America in 2017. Her work is published at Playscripts (I and You, Exit Pursued By A Bear, The Taming, and Toil And Trouble), Dramatists (The Revolutionists, The Book of Will, Silent Sky, Bauer, Miss Bennet) and Samuel French (Emilie). Her picture book Dr Wonderful: Blast Off to the Moon was be released from Two Lions / Amazon in May 2017. LaurenGunderson.com and @LalaTellsAStory
Jenny Giering’s current musical commissions include Summerland (book & lyrics by Sean Barry) for Chicago Shakespeare Theater; and Alice Bliss (book by Karen Hartman, lyrics by Adam Gwon, directed by Mark Brokaw) for Playwrights Horizons. Her other scores include The Mistress Cycle (produced at the New York Musical Theater Festival, also produced at Apple Tree Theater, Jeff Award Nomination); Crossing Brooklyn (commissioned and produced by The Boston Music Theater Project, also produced by The Transport Group; Kleban Award for best libretto, ASCAP/Dreamworks Musical Theater Workshop); Alice Unwrapped (commissioned by Premieres, Inc. and produced at the Zipper Theater with Jennifer Damiano); Saint-Ex (2011 World Premiere at The Weston Playhouse Theater Company, Weston VT, Weston Playhouse New Musical Award, ASCAP/Dreamworks Musical Theater Workshop, Sundance’s White Oak Workshop). Her incidental scores include Red Velvet (Chicago Shakespeare Theater, directed by Gary Griffin); The Tempest (Shakespeare Theater, directed by Ethan McSweeney); Long Day’s Journey into Night (Weston Playhouse, directed by Ethan McSweeney) As You Like It (Chicago Shakespeare Theater, directed by Gary Griffin, Jeff Award Nomination); Elizabeth Rex (Chicago Shakespeare Theater, directed by Barbara Gaines, Jeff Award Nomination); Silent Sky (Theaterworks/Palo Alto, written by Lauren Gunderson, directed by Meredith McDonough). She is also working a one-woman musical, “What We Leave Behind,” about her experience with chronic illness. Her awards include The Jonathan Larson Prize, The Constance Klinsky Prize from Second Stage Theater Company, The National Art Song Award, New Dramatists’ Frederick Loewe Award, several NEA and NAMT production grants. She is the only artist to receive Chicago Shakespeare’s Tilles Music Chair twice. Jenny has an AB from Harvard and an MFA from the Graduate Musical Theater Program at New York University. More info at: www.jennygiering.com.