Gun Violence Theme of Theatre Simpson Production Set for April 20


INDIANOLA, IOWA, April 20, 2018 — Theatre Simpson is joining the more than 50 productions in 30 states as a part of the national campaign of theater activism against gun violence by producing a play reading of Natural Shocks on April 20 at 7:00 p.m. in Lekberg Hall on the Simpson College campus. 

Natural Shocks is a new, unpublished play by Lauren Gunderson.  Based on Hamlet’s “To be or not to be,” Natural Shocks is a 65-minute, one-woman tour-de-force play that burst to life when we meet a woman waiting out an imminent tornado in her basement. She overflows with quirks, stories, and a final secret that puts the reality of guns in America in your lap.  The play is part confessional, part stand up, and part reckoning.

Lauren Gunderson has been named America’s Most Produced Playwright by American Theatre magazine in 2018 (and was #2 on the same list in 2017). She has had more than 20 plays produced and is known for writing “witty historical dramas about women in science, giddy political comedies, and wildly theatrical explorations of death and legacy” in the words of the New Yorker.  Natural Shocks is no exception.

The Theatre Simpson reading stars Ann Woldt and is directed by theatre arts department chair, Jennifer Ross Nostrala.  Producers of the national project include Leah Hamos, theatrical agent at The Gersh Agency; Corinne Hayoun, head of the NY office of MANAGE-MENT; and Christina Wallace, tech entrepreneur, arts producer, and political organizer.

April 20, 2018 is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting and the day the Parkland, Florida students are organizing a National School Walkout. Lauren is waiving royalties for readings the weekend of April 20, 2018 to raise awareness of gun violence and raise money for organizations like Everytown For Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action. Theatre Simpson has chosen to focus on a local organization and is raising money for the Warren County Domestic Violence Coalition. 

One performance only: April 20, 7:00 p.m. in Lekberg Hall on the Simpson College campus. No reservations necessary.  Free will donations can be made the night of the performance to benefit the Warren County Domestic Violence Coalition.

For more information on this event contact Jennifer Ross Nostrala at or 515-961-1649.  More information about the national campaign is available at


A note from the playwright

I was a junior in high school when Columbine happened in 1999 and it spurred me into activism instantly. I wrote an op-ed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shaming the NRA and their spokesman Charlton Heston, who were holding their annual conference only an hour away from that mourning community. I organized a student protest at the GA statehouse; I went to Washington to speak to my Senators. I was berated by our local conservative radio talk shows: called ignorant, naive, and unAmerican. I was 17, a teenager like all those amazing kids in Parkland who are taking up the cause of their lost classmates and making the biggest difference in this issue I’ve seen in my lifetime.

Nineteen years later here we are, another school shooting, but finally a freshly invigorated and seemingly unstoppable movement brewing. 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 back to being a junior and watching the news in horror curing my AP US History class and thinking those poor mothers and 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. My friend and fellow theatre activist Christina Wallace reached out immediately, read the piece, and said “Let’s do this.”

So now the play is yours. Whoever you are. On April 20th, read it, experience it, use it to raise money for Everytown or Mom’s 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.

Of course, to contradict Hamlet, the play is not the thing. You are. Your community, your company, yourself. Any play is just the metal that attracts the lightning. We are the lightning – actor, artistic team, audience, community. We are the undeniable force of nature that will light up this darkness and change it forever.

On April 20th, whether you can produce a reading, attend an event, march with the National Walk Out protest, or donate in any way…

Let’s do this.