The topics of gun control and domestic violence are coming together in the one-woman show “Natural Shocks,” on Saturday, April 21 at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. A direct reference from William Shakespeare’s famous Hamlet, Act III scene, “To be or not to be…,” where he says,“The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks / That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation,” this play explores the thoughts and testaments of a woman waiting in her basement for a tornado to hit. The twist, however, is that she is a domestic violence survivor, and she is also pro-gun.
“That’s what’s so exciting about this play,” director Ellen Gillooly-Kress said. “It raises all of these interesting complex issues in a creative and aesthetic way to open conversations about what is the role of guns and protecting ourselves.”
According to the movement’s website, the main character is a humorous woman filled with stories and a final secret that puts the reality of guns in America in perspective. On Saturday, over 100 women throughout the nation will perform their own readings of the play.
Written by Lauren Gunderson, the most produced playwright in America, just after the February 2018 Parkland shooting, this play hopes to showcase the correlation between gun violence and domestic violence. Gunderson said she decided to make her play available for community theaters, colleges and high schools to produce the weekend of April 20. This weekend is also the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting and the start of the National School Walkout.
The show is free, and Gunderson’s only request is that donations are given at the door to support anti-gun violence. All of the proceeds from the Eugene performance will go to Women’s Space, an organization that helps combat domestic violence in Lane County.
The University of Oregon version of this play will be read by Graduate Educator Liz Fairchild. Though Fairchild considers herself to be a feminist and can relate to some of the character’s life, her struggle with playing this role comes solely from the characters love for guns.
“It comes down to a fire versus fire kind of mentality, and so that’s what I really can’t agree upon,” Fairchild said. This mentality is what theatre is all about, according to Gillooly-Kress.
“You can bring characters together on stage that you wouldn’t necessarily agree with in real life and really get a chance to examine them and what motivates them as well.” According to Gillooly-Kress, this is what the cast wants people to get out of this play.
Not having a clear target audience, “Natural Shocks” is expected to raise awareness to everyone on the role of domestic violence in mass shootings.
You can find more information at https://www.naturalshocks.org/.