This year’s spring production is not only a creative work, but a medium for social change. “The Amish Project” will be performed at Stevenson University April 7-9, 14-16, at 7 p.m., and April 10 at 2 p.m.
This representation of the aftermath of the tragic Nickel Mines Amish school house shooting asks its audience to reflect upon the concept of forgiveness in extremely violent situations.
Ryan Clark, coordinator of Stevenson University’s theatre and media performance program, did not chose this production merely for its entertainment value. His passion for theatre that promotes social change led him directly to “The Amish Project,” a performance he expects to “be a piece of theatre that Stevenson audiences can engage with and provoke conversation.” Additionally, considering that gun safety is still a major concern in American society, this show remains relevant to current controversial topics despite the event occurring a decade ago.
“The Amish Project” is based on the 2006 Nickel Mines, Penn., Amish school house shooting in which 10 young Amish girls were taken hostage by a milkman. All 10 were later shot, leaving five murdered and the other five severely injured. The armed milkman ultimately committed suicide and left behind his wife, three children and an entire devastated community. The show demonstrates forgiveness and unity in the wake of devastation. The production looks at the shooting and growth of the community following the violence.
With a cast of seven people, this production takes a different route than past SU shows. According to Clark, “’The Amish Project’ is truly an ensemble piece—there is no ‘lead,’ as just about all of the characters have equal stage time.” This should give a different acting dynamic to each of the performances and help develop their characters for a well-rounded audience viewing experience.
The cast includes the gunman, two Amish school girl victims, the wife of the gunman, two non-Amish citizens of Nickel Mines, Penn. and a spokesman for the Amish families. The array of characters will help to give a unique view of the controversial subject from the eyes of people from different parts of the Nickel Mines community.
“’The Amish Project’ is a play about forgiveness,” said Clark. “It asks the audience to respond to that concept in the face of horrible violence.” Thus, the production is not only a form of creative expression, but it also offers a lesson: In the face of tragedy, how can you continue? After mass murder and thoughtless violence, how can we forgive the individual inflicting the pain? These are the questions raised during this monumental Stevenson production.