BY SANDY STAGGS
Unfortunately, it is merely a coincidence that Glow Lyric Theatre’s performance dialogue on gun violence “Armed” is occurring just two weeks after the Parkland massacre in Florida. This epic event was planned months ago and could have been just as timely after the Las Vegas shooting, the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Charleston, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech or Columbine.
But with recent national school walkouts and this week’s March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., the bluntly and ironically titled “Armed” could have more relevance than ever.
This joint fundraiser that partners Glow with SC organizations concerned about gun violence in our state and America: Arm in Arm SC, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America SC, Safe Harbor, and Upstate International.
With two performances at The Warehouse Theatre March 19-20, “Armed,” part of the company’s Raising Voices series, is intended to bring both gun owners and gun opposition together to start a dialogue on how to combat domestic violence and mass shootings which have become all too common in America today.
With a proven and expansive track record in Upstate theatre and opera, artistic director Jenna Tamisiea could masterly frame gun-themed tunes like “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Bang, Bang…I Shot You Down,” or “Bonnie and Clyde” into ogle-worthy lyrical tableaus on gun violence.
However, this “Armed,” under the music direction of , will include a cast of eight performers in powerful testimonials (many based on survivor stories and letters provided by the collaborating non-profits), opera, dance, musical theater, pop, and the premiere of a new work by local composer Jon Grier.
In addition, Glow and Arm in Arm will host a free pre-show reception both evenings at 6 p.m. when patrons can learn more about gun violence prevention, in a unique opportunity to hear from both sides of this very complicated issue. Performances start at 7 p.m. and a Post-Show Community Talk Back will be held at 8:15 p.m.
Margaret Evans is Program Director at one of the partnering nonprofits Safe Harbor which provides a continuum of services for individuals and families impacted by domestic violence, including emergency safe shelter, counseling, advocacy and other supportive services.
And while Safe Harbor does not track gun-related domestic violence statistics on its clients or provide services specifically tailored for victims of gun violence, many of their clients have higher levels of safety concerns due to the threat of gun violence from their partner.
“Safety planning is an important part of our advocacy work with victims, especially those whose partner/spouse has easy access to guns and has used guns as a threat to the victim’s safety,” she added.
By participating in “Armed,” Safe Harbor, Evans said, hopes to increase awareness of the links between domestic violence and gun violence and to encourage community collaboration as we work toward influencing a culture where all people feel safe and valued.
Rich Pocock, Events coordinator/organizer for the upstate chapter of MOMs Demand Action, has embraced “Armed” to create a “community dialogue to build awareness and knowledge of the gun violence issues facing our nation today and to incite action toward establishing sensible gun legislation in SC and across our country.”
Pocock said many MOMS Demand Action members have been personally affected by gun violence. “That’s why we have developed a Survivors Network to help support individuals and their families deal with the severe emotional impact of gun violence.”
The group supports universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and making the sale of ‘bump stocks’ illegal.
“We need to close the gun show loophole and convince our legislators to vote NO on proposed gun laws that will weaken our current laws in SC,” he said. “This includes a no vote on Open Carry without a Permit (s 449) and interstate reciprocity with states that have weaker guns laws than SC.”
In addition to the Raising Voices series, casting is underway for Glow Lyric Theatre’s Summer Season Festival of socially relevant works in direct response to the political and social climate of South Carolina. This year’s theme is “Demand the Right to Dream” and features in repertory the smash Broadway hit IN THE HEIGHTS, a fiesta of a show by HAMILTON creator Lin-Manuel Miranda that will have you dancing down the aisles.
Then, be empowered by the heroic actions of Leonora as she fights to save her husband in Ludwig van Beethoven’s only opera, FIDELIO. Finally, you’ll shed tears of laughter as you follow the hilarious forbidden love between the refined Josephine and the rough and tumble sailor Ralph in Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta HMS PINAFORE.
Where: The Warehouse Theatre 37 Augusta St, Greenville, SC 29601
When: March 19th and 20th, 7:00pm
Special Events: 6:00pm Pre-Show Reception 8:15pm Post-Show Community Talk Back
Box Office: (864) 235-6948 or http://glowlyric.com/
ABOUT THE PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS
Galvanized by the Emanuel AME tragedy in Charleston, Arm-in-Arm is an independent, grassroots group of South Carolinians working to reduce gun violence. With chapters forming in Columbia, Greenville and Myrtle Beach, the organization advocates for closing the gaps in laws that make it too easy for guns to fall into the wrong hands, while supporting the right of citizens to lawfully own guns.
Much like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the non-partisan Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (www.momsdemandaction.org) was created to advocate for stronger laws and policies that will reduce gun violence and save lives.
Safe Harbor Greenville is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence in the upstate of South Carolina. Safe Harbor provides safe emergency shelter, counseling, legal advocacy, and transitional housing, as well as community outreach and teen dating violence education in Greenville, Pickens, Anderson, and Oconee counties.