[image-1] Nine local theaters have joined a national campaign of theater activism to end gun violence, joining theaters and venues across the country in the reading of one-woman play, Natural Shocks, by Lauren Gunderson. On Mon. April 23 at 7:30 p.m. Threshold Rep hosts a reading of the play, followed by a public discussion. A suggested donation of $20 will be donated to the Emanuel AME Church Memorial Fund in honor of the Emanuel 9.

The reading of Natural Shocks, spearheaded locally by South of Broadway artistic director Kristen Kos, is currently supported by local theaters including 5th Wall Productions, Art Forms and Theatre Concepts, Deuce Theatre, Midtown Productions, Threshold Rep, PURE Theatre, South of Broadway Theatre, Storytree Children’s Theatre, and the Village Repertory Company.

In a press release Kos says, “It is meaningful to share my craft as a voice for change, and I am grateful for the ability to do so by presenting Lauren Gunderson’s play. Natural Shocks is disarming and poignant. It isn’t heavy handed and doesn’t preach a solution to abuse or gun violence but opens a door to thoughtful discussion.”

Natural Shocks
is based on Hamlet’s line, “To be or not to be,” and features one woman waiting out a tornado in her basement. Natural Shocks‘ author, Gunderson, was recently deemed “America’s most popular playwright” by The New Yorker. This isn’t Gunderson’s first politically motivated, nationwide play reading; she previously waived royalties for her play The Taming on Inauguration day 2017, so that it could be shared by theaters across the nation.

The reading of Natural Shocks is timed with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, April 20, which is also the day that students across the country are organizing a national school walkout to protest gun violence. According to ABC News, this upcoming walkout differs from last month’s school walkout (held on March 14), which lasted 17 minutes to honor the 17 lives lost at Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.

The April 20 walkout is set to last from 10 a.m. until the end of the school day. Student organizer Lane Murdock said, “As a student who can’t vote, you don’t have a lot of power. But what you have that’s powerful is your voice, your thoughts, but also your attendance. And leaving for longer than 17 minutes, leaving and breaking up that schedule that all American students have every day is how you get people to pay attention.”

Learn more about the Natural Shocks campaign online.