By Mary Boyle
Stockton. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Virginia Tech. Sound familiar? They should. They're the names we commonly use to remember some of the worst school shootings that have happened in our country in recent years. We now live in a culture that markets special door locks and bullet-proof mats to our schools to protect our children, but isn't that treating the symptoms?
It is estimated that, since 2013, there have been over 170 school shootings in our country. It's bad enough to think of your own child being in that scenario, but what if you were the parent of the shooter? This is the lens that this disturbing trend is viewed through in American Song, written by Joanna Murray-Smith and directed by Mark Clements, at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Just one year after his riveting performance in An Illiad at The Rep, James DeVita returns for another remarkable, one-man performance as a middle class father in a Wisconsin town, building a stone wall on his land. As he lays the stones, he remarks aloud how one badly laid brick at the bottom of a wall can affect the entire wall, and would leave the builder forever lamenting: "If I'd just laid that one brick right, the whole wall would have been straight."
He goes on to tell his tale, wondering if he could recognize and go back and change the one moment that things went wrong. Was it genetics? Was it punishment for his wrongdoings? His son was loved and had a good home. "We believe we have the ability to shape what comes," he says. Do we?
Endlessly thought-provoking and heart-wrenchingly familiar, American Song asks the questions that we may have been afraid to ask, and starts the conversation that we all need to have.
Endlessly thought-provoking and heart-wrenchingly familiar, American Song asks the questions that we may have been afraid to ask, and starts the conversation that we all need to have. In fact, this production has plenty of opportunity for discussion. Each performance has a pre-show conversation 45 minutes before curtain, as well as Act Two: a post-show dialogue component that begins with a five minute response from a local specialist and is followed by a 30-45 minute small group discussion facilitated by staff from the Frank Zeidler Center for Public Discussion, for those who wish to participate.
American Song runs now through April 10, 2016, at the Quadracci Powerhouse Theater. Tickets can be purchased at The Rep's website at www.MilwaukeeRep.com, by phone at (414) 224-9490, or at the Ticket Office at 108 E. Wells Street in Milwaukee.
About Milwaukee Repertory Theater
Milwaukee Rep is a nationally-recognized company that presents compelling dramas, powerful classics, award-winning contemporary works and full-scale musicals housed in its three unique performance venues: the Quadracci Powerhouse, Stiemke Studio, and Stackner Cabaret. The Rep also produces an annual production of A Christmas Carol, which celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2015, at the beautiful and historic Pabst Theater. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Mark Clements and Managing Director Chad Bauman, Milwaukee Repertory Theater ignites positive change in the cultural, social, and economic vitality of its community by creating world-class theater experiences that entertain, provoke, and inspire meaningful dialogue among an audience representative of Milwaukee's rich diversity.