Natural Shocks
By Lauren Gunderson
A National Campaign of Theater Activism Against Gun Violence.
A Main Street Theater Reading.

April 20, 2018 at 10:00am
at Main Street Theater - Rice Village


April 20, 2018 at 7:00pm
at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1805 W. Alabama at Woodhead

Main Street Theater is participating in a national initiative led by playwright Lauren Gunderson to campaign against gun violence. She has made her brand new one-woman show Natural Shocks available to theaters and artists free of royalties for readings across the nation on April 20. That specific date marks the 19th anniversary of Columbine and the day of the National School Walkout.

MST is currently the only theater in Texas to be offering Natural Shocks. Shannon Emerick will perform the play in an informal reading setting. The reading is free to attend with suggested donations, and all donations received will go to Moms Demand Action. Please RSVP to shannon@mainstreettheater.com with the number in your party and which reading you will attend.

About the Play

Based on Hamlet's "To be or not to be," Natural Shocks is a new 65-minute, one-woman tour-de-force play that bursts to life when we meet a woman waiting out an imminent tornado in her basement. She overflows with quirks, stories, and a final secret that puts the reality of guns in America in your very lap. The play is part confessional, part stand up, and part reckoning.

Mature language and content.

How This Came to Be, in the Words of the Playwright

"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 unAmerican. 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 instead of closing my eyes and thinking back to being a junior and watching the news in horror cutting my AP US History class and thinking those poor mothers and please god someone do something about this... I posted a query on Facebook asking for help with this play in the wake of this new violence. My friend and fellow theatre activist Christina Wallace reached out immediately, read the piece, and said, 'Let's do this.'

So now the play is yours. Whoever you are. On April 20th, read it, perform it, use it to raise money for Everytown or Moms Demand Action. Use it to start conversations, to build networks of support, to gather people and give them some place to go to congregate and say 'enough.'"

For full details, visit www.naturalshocks.org/.

For questions about Main Street Theater’s reading, email shannon@mainstreettheater.com

Additional Information

  • This national campaign of theater activism is the second time Lauren has used her plays to create a broad experience of congregation and catharsis. She previously waived royalties for her play THE TAMING on Inauguration Day 2017 (which Main Street participated in as well).

  • Lauren Gunderson has been named America’s Most Produced Playwright by American Theatre Magazine in 2018 (and was #2 on the same list in 2017). She has had more than 20 plays produced and is known for writing “witty historical dramas about women in science, giddy political comedies, and wildly theatrical explorations of death and legacy” in the words of the New Yorker. NATURAL SHOCKS is no exception.

  • As she told American Theatre Magazine just after the 2016 election, “The communal embrace of theatre was always an ancient way of processing politics, society, and great change. I believe it still is.”

  • As of March 21 there are 26 confirmed readings across 15 states, with another 12 readings in the pipeline. For up-to-date information on the project, go to www.naturalshocks.org/.


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