“26 Pebbles” is a play about the terrible events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut.
This horrific day is one of those times in our lives where we all knew where we were when first we heard of it. Much like 9/11 or perhaps our own individual tragedies, this particular day truly and deeply changed each of us individually and all of us collectively. But something so difficult and so distressing is hard to translate into art, certainly performance art. How can we dramatize a day that in many ways we all want to forget, or how can we ever really do justice to the stories of these peoples precious lives?
“26 Pebbles” is an answer to this dilemma.
It is a clear, beautiful, heartbreaking, unnerving and powerful answer. With a careful, gentle and humbling examination of the day through the eyes and hearts of some of those who were at the center of it, the moments of their lives before as well as after those horrific five minutes are laid out for us to see and the grace and the reverence of the actors on stage allow us to in some small way experience it.
The story of the day is told as if we, the audience, asked each of these characters to tell us about that day from their own perspective. There are many more characters than actors on stage, so these wonderful performers artfully and sympathetically double and triple up, skillfully adding scarves, or hats or glasses or attitude as they morph between them. A parent, a teacher, a farmer, an accountant, a new resident and one whose family had been in the area for generations and many, many more populate the play.
They paint a picture of a town full of good neighbors, old friends and cherished traditions.
Then the impossible happens. It unfolds as we sit holding our breath in the audience, hoping that this drama on stage is just that, a drama and not a documentary of what actually happened. But there is nothing sensationalized about this play or the performances by any actor. The story is reverently told, piece by tiny piece. The setting is a classroom and the map of the day’s events is drawn upon the classroom chalkboard taking pride of place on stage as the play unfurls.
It’s an artful and stunning way to take us back to that day.
The stories on stage are most of those who were in the town when it happened, rather than those who were in the rooms. The stories are in that way filtered for us, we are protected from the horror of a first-hand account or a re-enactment. Yet these peripheral anecdotes are chillingly vivid, profoundly moving and completely relatable.
The harm done through this brutal act is felt in waves of pain rippling out from the murders of each child and each teacher, the plays “pebbles.” The impact of this pain then ripples out again, through the town, through the country, and around the world. No one is left untouched by it and the ripples continue, through Stoneman Douglas, through Las Vegas and through every single shooting on every single day in America.
How can we change this? How can we stop this?
How can we make even the smallest impact in our upside-down world? I wish I knew. Creating important art like “26 Pebbles” and performing it over and over again, in every forum and every venue and never forgetting or letting go might do something…and something is so much better than nothing. And sometimes, with hope, something turns into everything.
I highly recommend “26 Pebbles” from the very good people of Above The Curve Theatre. Bravo to their instincts who take their talents and their hearts and make something happen.
It’s not a long run, so don’t dawdle…let’s keep those ripples moving ever outwards.
Tickets: $20 online at www.abovethecurvetheatre.com; $25 at the door *$5 from every ticket sale goes to Everytown For Gun Safety*
Written by Eric Ulloa
Directed by Joe Lorenzo
Diana De Luna, Erica Brauer, Anthony Marquez, James Patrick, Vanessa Lorenzo, Amy Newman, Mara Shuster-Lefkowitz, Samantha Colicchio, Goreti da Silva and Adriane Shown.