Tackling the serious themes of murder and forgiveness, the St. Charles Preparatory School's drama department will premiere The Amish Project later this month, a first for the central Ohio area.
The story revolves around a 2006 shooting at an Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pa., which resulted in the death of six people, including the shooter, who himself was not Amish. The reaction by the Amish community -- one of forgiveness -- spurred discussion and debate around the country.
Several nonfiction books were written following the shooting, along with a made-for-TV movie and a one-woman play written and performed by Jessica Dickey.
"I first heard about The Amish Project several years ago," said Doug Montgomery, the school's drama director. "It was a play I have been interested in for several years. This show is very unique."
Because it was written as a one-woman show, it would not normally be tackled by any high school theater department.
This summer, however, as Montgomery was paging through a play catalogue, he discovered that The Amish Project had been re-worked to include a larger cast.
He knew right away this would be the department's fall production.
The Amish Project is a fictional exploration of the Nickel Mines schoolhouse shooting and the path of forgiveness and compassion forged in its wake. The original version of The Amish Project was first produced at the New York International Fringe Festival on Aug. 8, 2008 in the Players Loft. It hit off-Broadway in June 2009.
Montgomery announced this week that this is the first of three premieres he and St. Charles students will bring to the stage this year.
"A school shooting is something students are acutely aware of," Montgomery said last week.
But it's not the shooting that The Amish Project focuses on, he said. Rather, the act itself is portrayed very tastefully on stage, leaving plenty of room to focus on the larger message at hand -- forgiveness.
"This production gave the students and myself the opportunity to research things we don't know much about," he said, pointing out that most of the students at St. Charles are Roman Catholic.
They read news accounts, watched documentaries, and viewed Katie Couric's recent interview with the shooter's widow.
"These acts of forgiveness were shocking to many," Montgomery said. It's a lesson he said many could learn from the Amish community.
"It is my private prayer," Dickey said in her original production notes, "that this play, should they ever know about it, would not hurt them further, but somehow honor the goodness they forged in the face of such tragedy."
The Amish Project will be staged at 8 p.m. Nov. 21-23 and at 3 p.m. Nov. 24, in the St. Charles Campus Theater, 2010 E. Broad St.
Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for students.
Reservations can be made by calling 614-252-6714 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Reservations are recommended as most shows sell out.