One of the most produced playwrights in the nation is becoming a favorite in the Quad Cities.
The Black Box Theatre in Moline is planning to stage its fourth play by Lauren Gunderson this February — “Natural Shocks: A One Woman Play in a Tornado.” In 2019, it presented “Silent Sky”; in 2021, “I and You,” and last February it did “The Revolutionists.” This past July, Richmond Hill Players in Geneseo also presented “Silent Sky.”
Gunderson (a 40-year-old Atlanta native who lives in San Francisco) is one of the most produced playwrights in America — since 2015, she has topped the list three times, including for the 2022-23 season.
She is a two-time winner of the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for I and You and The Book of Will, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award and the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation’s Residency with Marin Theatre Company.
In the normally one-woman “Natural Shocks,” Angela is “trapped in her basement, waiting out an approaching tornado. Though a self-proclaimed unreliable narrator, she begins to reflect on a lifetime of trauma, illuminating the truth behind her endangerment,” according to a synopsis. “Based on Hamlet’s famous ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy, NATURAL SHOCKS is a damning condemnation of violence, abuse, and firearms in America.”
Gunderson’s website site summarizes it: “Angela, our fast-talking heroine, overflows with quirks, stories, and a final secret that puts the reality of guns in America in your very lap. The play is part confessional, part stand up, and part reckoning.”
A 2020 post on Gunderson’s Facebook page said:
“One of the most powerful pieces I have ever experienced. I feel lucky to have seen it twice live in NY. The first time I didn’t see it coming. It felt like a punch in the chest. The second time, I cried the whole way through.”
The 2018 solo show, in its world premiere directed by May Adrales and starring Pascale Armand as Angela, tackles the theme of a woman in crisis, with the natural disaster of a tornado serving as an extended metaphor for the turbulent violence in her life and her desperate attempt to escape its fury, according to a review at DC Theater Arts.
In the Black Box production, director Roger Pavey Jr. (an Augustana College student) plans to split the role into four performers, each performing a quarter of the approximately one-hour show. “The goal is to cast diversity-conscious, expanding the story beyond just one woman’s experience,” according to a BBT release.
“We are looking to cast 4 female and femme-identifying individuals. Talent of varying ethnicities, sexual orientation, body types, age, religion, walks of life, trans women, and individuals of the LGBTQIA+ community are encouraged to audition,” the release says.
People are encouraged to audition at Black Box (1623 5th Ave., Moline) on Dec. 28 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. or by video submission. Rehearsals will begin in early January, with performances Feb. 2-5 and 9-12, 2023.
Come prepared to read monologue cuttings of the script. If you cannot make it to the audition date, audition cuts and further virtual audition info are available upon request and are due by 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 28.
To request audition cuts in advance, a copy of the script, and/or for further questions, please email Roger Pavey Jr. at email@example.com or Lora Adams, Black Box Theatre co-owner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about Gunderson, visit her website HERE.