SOUTH BEND — Deona Murphy has skilled the results of gun violence firsthand. In Could, her boyfriend, Kelvin Stanford Jr., was shot and killed in an argument with a buddy.
Now, Murphy and others affected by gun violence are taking to the stage in a sequence of performs to humanize and convey consciousness to the difficulty.
“Me doing this play sheds gentle, as a result of I do know the non-public feeling and trauma that occurs throughout conditions like that,” Murphy stated.
The South Bend Civic Theatre and native nonprofit Join 2 Be the Change are partnering to place a sequence of seven, 10-minute performs themed round varied facets of gun violence. The performs being carried out are the winners of the nationwide “#Sufficient: Performs to Finish Gun Violence” brief play contest, and performances will happen at practically 50 theaters concurrently throughout the nation Monday: the eighth anniversary of the Sandy Hook taking pictures.
“I believe theater is the very best medium for serving to open individuals to, on this case, a really urgent and heartbreaking problem in our group,” stated Aaron Nichols, govt director of the South Bend Civic Theatre.
All proceeds will go to Join 2 Be the Change, which helps youths deal with violence or loss in wholesome methods. The group is run by Loria Perez, Stanford Jr.’s mom, and Takisha Jacobs, who additionally misplaced a son to gun violence.
South Bend, like many cities throughout the nation, has seen a spike in gun violence in 2020. In response to the South Bend Police Division, there have been 124 criminally assaulted shootings to this point this yr, 22 of which had been deadly.
In 2019, native police knowledge exhibits, 109 individuals had been injured in shootings, whereas 78 individuals had been shot in 2018, 102 had been shot in 2017 and 81 had been shot in 2016. Criminally assaulted shootings don’t embody unintended shootings or suicides.
Although the variety of shootings is upsetting, Nichols believes the performs inform the story of gun violence in a method the numbers can’t.
“Theater is an engine of empathy,” Nichols stated. “It places you within the footwear of another person, it enables you to see via their eyes. In lots of circumstances, gun violence doesn’t have an effect on us every individually, it impacts another person however not us. In these performs, you might be put into the world that’s being impacted by gun violence.”
The seven performs method the difficulty from totally different views (for instance, the intersection of race, historical past and faculty life with gun violence) and can impart distinct themes to the viewers.
Landis Talton, who portrays the character Black Boy within the play “Ghost Gun,” hopes viewers make extra of an effort to know the causes of gun violence as a substitute of judging these concerned.
Talton, who was a buddy of Kelvin Stanford Jr., added that he needs to be a task mannequin for youthful youngsters who’re coping with the results of gun violence.
“Me and Kelvin talked about how we at all times wished the very best and we had been going to make the change everyone else wasn’t making. If he was right here with me, he could be within the play with me,” Talton stated.
Murphy, who has a task within the play “Togetha,” needs the viewers to know how gun violence can change lives in a second.
“I would like individuals to know that gun violence is a critical factor and it’s occurring immediately on this planet and it will probably occur to anyone,” she stated. “A bullet will not be assigned to any particular particular person.”
Murphy, who just lately graduated from Washington Excessive Faculty, portrays a personality who’s shot at a highschool commencement get together, illustrating the pervasiveness of violence in on a regular basis life.
Newly educated actors from Join 2 Be the Change will make up the forged in three of the seven performs, whereas the opposite 4 will likely be carried out by Civic Theatre actors.
Although most of these with Join 2 Be the Change haven’t participated in theater earlier than, Nichols stated, they’ve been “stoked” throughout rehearsals.
“They had been very clearly moved by the items, you possibly can inform these tales spoke to them in a method they weren’t anticipating,” Nichols stated, including that the Civic actors have skilled an “awakening” via the method as effectively.
Talton stated his time with the #Sufficient undertaking has impressed him to jot down his personal performs and, hopefully sooner or later, a screenplay.
Due to social distancing tips, the performs will likely be streamed on-line with actors additionally performing over Zoom. After the performs, a dialog on gun violence in South Bend will likely be accessible on the Civic Theatre’s Fb web page.
Finally, Nichols hopes the sequence of performs spurs the group to make a larger dedication to assuaging gun violence.
“I hope that those that tune in will really feel that accountability to do one thing about this,” he stated, “and I believe these performs inform these tales so truthfully and so brutally that we’ll get up to the disaster.”