UWM Theatre alum Michael Cotey has created a nationwide program to tap into the voices of high school students from all over the country. #ENOUGH is a program of shorts written by those growing-up in an increasingly dangerous world of mass shootings and increased awareness of police-related assault and homicide. Many scripts were submitted. A few chosen scripts are being performed by theatre groups all over the country. Last night Sturgeon Bay’s Third Avenue Playhouse presented a live reading of the shorts on YouTube.
The opening short Loaded Language started with a group of students talking about plans and strategies on how best to survive a shooting at their school. The dialogue is written by high school senior Elizabeth Shannon. In an earlier era this would have been morbid idle thought in a study hall, but in the modern world this is practical planning for a potential tragedy. It’s a stark introduction to the program. In the second scene an offhand remark about a troubled classmate bends the talk of potential tragedy into active drama.
Former Milwaukee Chamber Theatre Producing Artistic Director C. Michael Wright directed the second short on the program: Debkanya Mitra’s Malcom. A quartet of voices remember one person...a victim of a police shooting. There’s real anger and frustration fused into the story of one life lost in police/civilian altercation that has become all too tragically common. It’s a very vivid character sketch that is delivered before the account of his death. It’s a very powerful moment.
Ms. Martin’s Malaise follows the story of Malcolm. A teacher is juxtaposed against students, reports of a firearm and the fates themselves. Written by Adelaide Fisher, it’s a drama with intensity that is amplified by the videoconference format of the show. It’s just people. With no other distractions, the complexity of issues surrounding firearms in the US get a striking close-up in a provocative, little drama.
Probably the most memorable short on the program was California Sophomore Sarah Schecter’s Hullabaloo. Milwaukee’s Ryan Schabach playing a showman named Hunter in a Wild Bill-style political satire on the bloody history of the United States’ relationship with firearms. There’s a charismatic poetry about it that engages the slicing satire that feels bombastically oversimplified in places, but Schecter casts quite a bit of light on aspects of the past that aren’t often explored in pop entertainment formats. Schecter levels a suitably potent photonic cannon at the history of guns in America. It’s a clever contrast to the heaviness of much of the rest of the program. Of all the shorts on the program, this one feels like it might be the one that would feel most dynamic expanded into a feature-length show. The history of this country’s relationship with guns is a long and sordid one. It’s a history that needs to be seen in all its vicious ugliness.
#ENOUGH will be presented in a hybrid production online from a few different theatre groups from all over the country will be presented on Broadway on Demand. For more information on that and the ambitious program, visit #ENOUGH online.