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’Gunplay’ offers laughter, heartbreak

AmbushBenny Sato Ambush, Performing Arts senior distinguished producing director-in-residence, introduced the reading of Frank Higgins’s Gunplay on November 3 by reminding the audience that the presentation supported President Lee Pelton’s Gun Violence Resource Center initiative to engage in thoughtful conversations about gun violence. 

Following the cancellation of the original reading of Gunplay due to the tragic Boston Marathon bombings in April 2013, Ambush worked to find a new date and space for the Gunplay reading.

More than 65 people gathered in the Greene Theater, in the Tufte Performance and Production Center, and listened intensely to a series of short vignettes read and performed by a multicultural, multigenerational cast of students, professional actors, and an alumnus.  

The 90-minute performance moved quickly, with each vignette offering something new to consider about gun violence. Sometimes funny, and often heartbreaking, the stories of people’s experiences with guns were compelling: a father and son bonding over hunting together through the years; a police officer’s account of domestic violence that began during a couple’s argument over whether an angel or a star should top their Christmas tree; and a nine-year-old girl living in the projects of Chicago sharing her fantasy of her and her mom being safe and living without the fear of being shot.


Benny Sato Ambush, Performing Arts faculty member, leads a performance of Gunplay on November 3. (Photo by Carole McFall)

A post-reading discussion led by Ambush highlighted the complexity of guns in American life as a number of respondents brought to light many of the issues surrounding America’s struggles with gun violence including gun policy, gun history, gun safety, gun laws, and personal accountability and responsibility.

The 14-member cast of Gunplay consisted of: local professional actors Diego Arciniegas, Miranda Craigwell, Liz Hayes, Cliff Odle, and Jeffrey Song; Performing Arts faculty members Christina Marin and Craig Mathers; Performing Arts students Julian Aldana-Tejada ’17, Rachel Brunner ’16, Jordan Matayoshi ’15, Maria Alessandra Esparza ’16, Michael Kelly ’15, and Nyla Wissa ’15; and alumnus Marc Pierre ’13.

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