Alma College Theatre Examines Gun Violence in “Gunplay”

ALMA – Alma College Theatre will address the societal issue of gun violence in a student written and performed play, “Gunplay.”

Performances take place Thursday, Feb. 13; Friday Feb. 14; and Saturday Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2:30 p.m. in Remick Heritage Center, Strosacker Theatre. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $5 for seniors 62 and up, and free for Alma College staff, students, and youth 18 and under. Seating is reserved. For ticket information, call (989) 463-7304.

The show carries a trigger warning due to graphic and disturbing content related to the topic of gun violence.

“Gunplay” was written by 21 students in a communication course called Performing Advocacy in fall 2019. Joanne Gilbert, professor of communication, teaches the course. Through on and off campus interviews, statistical data and their own creative work, students explored the causes and consequences of gun violence in the United States.

Daniel Barr (Ghost Kid) and Morgan Sweitzer (Death) in a scene from Gunplay. Daniel Barr (Ghost Kid) and Morgan Sweitzer (Death) in a scene from Gunplay.

“Gun violence has reached epidemic proportions in this country,” said Gilbert, who is the play’s director. “According to the Center for Disease Control, 100 people are killed every day by guns in the U.S.—that’s over 36,000 people a year. Any epidemic should concern us deeply.”

This concept was introduced when Gilbert was asked by Scott Mackenzie, department chair for theatre and dance, to direct a show. Because they were both concerned about the issue of gun violence, they decided that her course would focus on creating a script addressing it.

“It’s a daunting process for 21 students to create a script collaboratively,” said Gilbert. “The students found the process both logistically challenging and conceptually rewarding. I am extremely proud of the work they did.”

The students were responsible for working in groups and writing monologues, dialogues and multiple person scenes. In the end, those groups came together to combine their scripts into the final version that the actors will perform.

“The cast has risen to the challenge of performing devised/compiled work,” said Gilbert. “They have also contributed additional creative material and helped with editing suggestions.”

Alma College student actors include:

  • Annabelle Avolio
  • Asiel Clark
  • Conner Garma
  • Daniel Barr
  • Daniel Chalice
  • Elizabeth Pechota
  • Gracie Lloyd
  • Greysen Tomlinson
  • Jacob Bendele
  • Morgan Sweitzer
  • Noor Hassan-Contreras
  • Rachel Blome
Story published on February 12, 2020