News: Lauren Gunderson’s ‘Natural Shocks’ Reading to Address Gun Violence

WSC Avant Bard will present a reading of Natural Shocks, a new play by Lauren Gunderson, on Monday, April 23, 2018, at 7:30 pm at 1st Stage, 1524 Spring Hill Rd, McLean, VA 22102, as part of a nationwide weekend of theater activism against gun violence.

Gunderson, the most-produced playwright in America, has made Natural Shocks available royalty-free for local readings across the country to raise money to address gun violence the weekend of April 20, 2018—the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting and the day of the National School Walkout.

Natural Shocks is a 65-minute, one-woman play that bursts to life when we meet a woman waiting out an imminent tornado in her basement. She reveals a final secret that puts the reality of guns in America front and center. The play is part confessional, part standup, and part reckoning. The reading will feature Sara Barker, recently acclaimed for her performance in Avant Bard’s production of Gunderson’s play Emilie: La Marquis du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight.

Admission is free and all donations collected will be sent to  Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a 501(c)4 and part of Everytown for Gun Safety. This nonpartisan grassroots movement has grown to include a chapter in every state across the country. Moms Demand Action educates, motivates, and mobilizes supporters to take action that will result in stronger laws and policies to save lives. Donations to Moms Demand Action may also be made online directly to a local state chapter: VirginiaDC, or  Maryland.

Natural Shocks playwright Lauren Gunderson

Playwright Gunderson explains why she created this campaign of theater activism against gun violence:

I happened to be working on a new one-woman play based a bit on Hamlet—called Natural Shocks—about a quirky, chatty woman with a dark truth she needs to share. I was just starting to send it out to trusted colleagues when the Parkland school shooting happened. And I saw how brave and tireless and convincing these kids were in saying “no more gun violence.” And then I read that the most vocal of them were theatre kids. So instead of closing my eyes and thinking … please god someone do something about this… I posted a query on Facebook asking for help with this play in the wake of this new violence.

So now the play is yours. Whoever you are. Read it, experience it, use it to raise money for Everytown or Moms Demand Action. Use it to start conversations, to build networks of support, to gather people and give them some place to go to congregate and say enough.

Sara Barker, starring in Natural Shocks

Adds Sara Barker, who stars in Natural Shocks:

I think it’s great that Avant Bard and 1st Stage have stepped forward as companies from the DC region to participate in Lauren’s national campaign of theatre activism against gun violence. Around 50 professional companies and universities have registered to produce a staged reading of Natural Shocks the weekend of April 20, and each will support a charitable cause that actively deals with the issues of gun violence and/or domestic violence in our country. I am so very proud to be a part of one of the many instances of theatre activism working to prevent more heartbreak.

The April 23 reading of Natural Shocks will be directed by Stevie Zimmerman with stage management by Laura Schlachtmeyer.

For driving and Metro directions to 1st Stage, click here.

For more information about the reading event, email, call 703-418-4808, or go to


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