The subject is guns, guns in the United States. To explore the matter, Strawberry Theatre Workshop uses dramatizations, first-person accounts, interviews, statistics, discussions and music by Rick Miller in “Control: A Living Newspaper.” The combination provides provocative insights and reasoned arguments about one of today’s burning issues.
The Living Newspaper style of production had its heyday in the 1930s, as part of the federal government’s Works Progress Association, when it tackled social issues of the day, integrating factual information with stagecraft.
Greg Carter, the adapter and director, attempts to present alternative views on gun ownership and use. Early in the piece actors representing both sides of the issue offer arguments for and against enacting new legislation to place restraints on the sale and availability of weapons.
Yet despite the effort to be evenhanded, the number of statistics presented here in support of ownership restriction is so overwhelming, and the dramatizations of conversations with relatives of victims so heartbreaking, the point of view is clear.
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The actors are especially effective when they assume the roles of parents of murdered children. Lisa Carswell as Veronique Pozner, mother of a 5-year-old killed in Newtown, Conn., epitomizes a parent in excruciating pain.
Mesmerizing, too, are Rob Burgess, Galen Joseph Osier and Jessie Underhill as parents of children who kill. In their monologues they question society’s failure to address the needs of the mentally ill. They describe their desperate attempts to provide help for their troubled children and the anguish they live with now.
MJ Sieber as James Madison offers a useful assessment of the Constitution’s Second Amendment. He contrasts the intent of those who drafted the Bill of Rights with the reality of today, suggesting that the issues for the new country and the concept of a militia were not at all as we have been interpreting them.
Although the Living Newspaper format hasn’t been seen in decades, it works as well now as it did then.
Nancy Worssam: email@example.com