Gahanna Lincoln High School thespians will provide an inside look into a community's strength and resiliency following a tragedy as they present "26 Pebbles."
The story of what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012, will unfold as the show is presented at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1, through Nov. 3 in the high school auditorium, 140 S. Hamilton Road.
Director Cindi Macioce said the show is courageous, timely, relevant and important to all communities.
"Horrible things happen every day in our country, but there was something about this tragedy that grabbed a hold of me and wouldn't let go," playwright Eric Ulloa wrote about the show. "It seemed that there was never a moment for the people of this community to grieve or to just talk out what they were feeling."
Ulloa traveled to Newtown, wanting to hear stories and give people a chance to unload what they'd been carrying with them, and what he discovered was that their stories are lessons everyone can learn from.
"I am honored to be the one to use their words to create an evening of powerful theater," Ulloa said.
Macioce said the show's ending has a hopeful message.
"What I think audiences will enjoy most is the sense of community, hope, love and the connection," said junior Trinity Warwick, assistant director.
In her role as Yolie, sophomore Cami Weldon said she highlights the need for joy.
"When the community is scared, I say you have to find joy and light," Weldon said. "It's not a show about a shooting, but a community that has problems everyone relates to. I think audiences will be entranced by what we're saying."
Macioce said the theater department hasn't recently had a chance to do a show in which the actors are able to play living people, so it has been exciting to watch the students put their research into their character development.
"The technical cues in this show are extremely important in creating honest and believable moments for the audience," she said. "It is also the first show in which we will be using projection, so that is another wonderful element we will use to tell the story."
Macioce said the show is an ensemble piece with no standouts, as all characters are important to the storytelling.
The characters and cast include: Jenn, Bronte Johnson; Carla, Anneke Kessing; Michael, Conner Mallonn; Darren, David Rice; Bill, Tamius Watson-Asante; Father Weiss, Colin Smith; Joe, Jack Starr; Chris, Cedrick McCafferty; Rabbi Praver, Nate Asamoah; Mike, Daniel Duncan-Bevans; Yolie, Cami Weldon; Jeriann, Mariah Smith; Sally, Charlie Brazwell; Georgia, Kaleea Reditt; Kat, Reagan Mounts; Carrie, Alida Cahir; Julie, Chandlyr Letzelter; Starr, Shea Crowley; Carole, Sara Tuohy; and actors Gavin Adams, Lisa Bruyako and Maya Anderson.
The crew includes Chris Wagner, technical director; Zach Mason, stage manager; and Haley Peters, assistant stage manager.
Macioce said there will be a 45-minute talk-back session with the actors, crew and community members after the Nov. 2 performance to discuss ways in which the community can be strengthened and do a better job addressing gun violence and its repercussions.
She said the show is rated PG rating due to some mature content.
Tickets cost $12 and will be available for purchase in the front office of the high school from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Monday, Oct. 29, or online at localevel events.com.