Written by EM Lewis
Directed by Shelly Butler
Produced by Project Y Theatre Company
Nominations: Outstanding Solo Performance, Andrew W. Smith
About the Company: Project Y produces new and innovative theatre with a focus on social issues by diverse voices, women, and LGBTQ artists. We support new plays and playwrights that appeal to an audience interested in such themes as race, feminism, technology, and community.
About the Production: From a farming community in rural Oregon to the big cities of Los Angeles and New York, playwright EM Lewis takes aim at her own relationship with firearms in The Gun Show. Actor Andrew William Smith shares Ms. Lewis’s unique perspective and true stories about America’s most dangerous pastime as if they were his own, with brutal honesty and poignant humor. Leaning neither right nor left, “The Gun Show” jumps into the middle of the gun control debate, and asks “Can we have a conversation about this?”
What first attracted you to this project?
Andrew: This play tackles the issue of gun violence in this country from the middle. It is neither left nor right leaning, and instead allows you to have a glimpse into what the other side is thinking, and perhaps begin to see a human being on the other side of a polarizing issue.
What was your favorite part of working on this production?
Andrew: It was incredible working on a piece of theatre that resonated so strongly with the social issues currently plaguing our country. Also, since this story approached the issue from the center as a means to bring people together, the audience was constantly begin taken off guard by the humanity within the arguments of the "other side." Also, as an actor, it was my honor to present these true stories with the playwright in the room, which dramatically amplified the power of the storytelling. With Ellen Lewis in the room each night, there was nowhere for the audience and performer to hide -- we were all in the mix together.
What was the most challenging part of working on this production?
Andrew: The emotional content of this story was extremely difficult to work through without letting it overtake me. The stories in the play are brutal and 100% true -- and this demanded an emotional honestly that sometimes was a challenge to keep myself honed and on target.
What did you want the audience to walk away this after watching The Gun Show?
Andrew:No matter how strongly you believe in something, those that disagree with you have honest, true, and good reasons for doing so. We need to see the humanity in the other side, and allow the demonetization of the other side to dissipate.
What was the most unique aspect of this production for you?
Andrew:For an audience member to realize that 1) the brutal stories in the play are 100% true and 2) the playwright is in the room was a magical moment only possible in the theatre-- it turned the play on its head and each night there was a shudder of truth that infected each audience member when these two facts were revealed.
What is it like working with Project Y Theatre Company?
Andrew:No one was doing this for personal attention. We all care deeply about the issue, and strove to tell the story in a way that allowed for the greatest sense of discovery for the audience. It wasn't about impressing or entertaining an audience. It was about challenging them to challenge themselves.
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