Maryssa Wanless performed the one-woman play “Natural Shocks” on Monday night at PianoFIght in San Francisco. Produced by Utopia Theatre Project, Wanless’ performance was part of a nationwide participation of theatre activism to end gun violence. Written by Lauren Gunderson, one of today’s most prolific and successful screenwriters, “Natural Shocks” is based upon Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ and that famous question of “to be or not to be.”
Gunderson was so shocked by the recent outburst of gun violence at Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that it brought to mind the gun violence almost 20 years ago at Columbine High in Littleton, Colorado. She dedicated “Natural Shocks” play to be used as vehicle to help put an end to gun violence. All royalties and fees have been waived so that any theatre group or community who wanted to put on the 65-minute monologue could do so for free.
Making this as an opportunity for Utopia Theatre Project to not only raise funds for EveryTown for Gun Safety, a non-profit working to end gun violence, but also as a way for people to discuss this pressing issue.
The mood on Monday night at PianoFight was intense as the audience hung on every word that Wanlass powerfully delivered. Despite the play’s serious subject matter, humor at times prevailed.
Since Gunderson’s release of her play, performances and staged readings of “Natural Shocks” have been performed in many places all over the nation. Gunderson’s aim was to have it performed in all 50 states.
Wanless is the Artistic Director of Utopia Theatre Project and she has this to say, “I believe theatre is transformative because it has transformed me and the people I work with on a daily basis. Theatre asks its audiences and participants to extend their thinking beyond themselves and step into the experience of another person.”
After Wanlass was finished her thought-provoking performance there was a “Q & A” with the audience in which also included Director, Laura Jane Bailey.
While the venue at PianoFight only holds 50 people, the ability for important subjects and issues to be presented in an intimate theatrical space makes an impact.
Utopia Theatre Project was founded in 2014 by emerging Japanese-American playwright, Anne Yumi Kobori because she believes in artist-produced live theatre as a unique and powerful form of human connection using the theatrical art form to invoke social change through the telling of non-traditional stories.
Natural Shocks at San Francisco’s PianoFight – Monday, April 23, 2018
National Campaign To End Gun Violence
Reported by Tony
Photography by Tasi Alabastro
“Natural Shocks” is the fourth production (“Seeds” was the third) in Utopia’s inaugural season and is certainly a unique theatrical experience. Yet, even more so is the fact that this was history in the making using theater as a form of social activism.
For more information about “Natural Shocks” at Utopia Theatre Project visit: UtopiaTheatreProject.com and for more about the project, “Natural Shocks” visit: https://www.naturalshocks.org