THE AMISH PROJECT is a “gutsy little production” and “There is much to admire in this well acted and directed production…In a violent world, The New Ensemble delivers provocative theater.”
“Go see The Amish Project! Major kudos to Heather Parish and The New Ensemble for this breathtaking show. In the wake of so many mass shootings, I think it’s easy to become desensitized. This show made the tragedy of those events intensely personal but at the same time presented a broader view of what humanity really is and how to forgive. It’s a must-see!” – Nikki Valentine
‘The Amish Project’ explores the themes of forgiveness and compassion. The solo performance by Kristin Crase, who played 7 different roles was mesmerizing. I know there is a lot of theater out there, but this is one you won’t want to miss.” – Anita Morris
“Kudos to Kristin on her FANTASTIC one-woman show, The Amish Project. A thought provoking piece of theatre that explores forgiveness in a moment of absolute horror in a community. Today’s tragic events in Paris made this production that much more relevant. Congratulations again to Kristin and to Heather and thank you for bringing this important piece to the valley! Go see this show. Seriously.” -Miguel Gastelum 11/13/15
” It was so well-played and moving. I’m not often moved to tears by a play –jaded theater professor that I am–but that ending got to me, which says something about the non-sentimental writing AND the performance.” -Julia Reimer, professor of theater at Fresno Pacific University about The Amish Project.
“What a moving, thought-provoking, amazingly timely piece of theatre. Thanks to you both for this!!!” -Joel C Abels, artistic director of StageWorks Fresno about “The Amish Project”
As the debate rages on about how to respond to violence and “evil” in this world, The New Ensemble’s current play, The Amish Project, offers an idea…forgiveness.
In this one-woman show,Kristin Crase embodies seven characters that we journey with as they experience the tragedy and grace surrounding the Nickel Mines Amish School Shooting of 2006. For those who are not familiar with this story: In 2006, a gunman entered an Amish one-room schoolhouse, took hostages before shooting ten girls, killing five, before committing suicide.
In my opinion, there are three central themes the play explores: grace is as hard to accept as it is to extend, extending grace is an exercise of one’s faith, and we all have in us, the ability to do good and evil.
After any tragedy a couple of questions come to the surface, like where was God? And why did this happen?
Somewhere in the mix, politicians (professional and amateur alike) grandstand to advance their personal beliefs or agenda, and often we are drawn to conclusion that such events could only be done by an evil person. This play helps us to understand that the world is not so black and white. We all have in us something, that when stretched to its breaking point, might be considered evil to someone else.
Fortunately, we also all have in us, the ability to move beyond human nature and offer grace from somewhere deep in our heart, when the world whispers vengeance in our ear.
The play doesn’t seek to answer the “why” question. In fact, the shooter’s character is upfront with the audience that he’s “more than the why”…and he’s right. All of the lives affected by the tragedy are “more than the why.” And to the surviving family members the “why” doesn’t matter. No amount of justification or reasoning will bring back their loved ones. So all they are left with is, “how do I respond?”
Without giving too much away, in the majority of the play we see Carol Stuckey, the shooter’s widow, experience backlash from the community until one fateful night when members of the Amish community arrive at her home. Carol’s internal battle in that moment reminds me of Javert’s (Les Miserables) struggle to live in a world where someone can offer abundant grace and where it is difficult to accept that grace. The one-actor nature of the play reinforces the idea that at any moment one can be any of these characters.
Finally, in the most moving scene, the audience sees the other side of the forgiveness decision. A man, whose daughter was killed in the shooting, sits alone in his home. Through the eyes of his daughter, we get a glimpse of the internal struggle to offer forgiveness to the Stuckey family. I got the sense that his struggle was not “why me”, rather it was “I need help to do the impossible”. Although, the audience never hears from him, his act of forgiveness is it’s own character.
So, again we come back to the question “where was God?”
God is here…keeping looking.
It should come as no surprise thatThe New Ensemble produced such great piece. Heather Parish and the New Ensemble are consistently choosing and producing relevant and thought provoking plays. If you want more art in Fresno that challenges you, please support the group by going to see this play this week. Shows are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm.
The Amish Project is a fictional exploration of the Nickel Mines schoolhouse shooting in an Amish community, and the path of forgiveness and compassion forged in its wake.
Performed by Kristin Lyn Crase. Directed by Heather Parish.
November 6 – 21, 2015
at The Voice Shop in Fresno’s Tower District.
WHAT: “The Amish Project” by Jessica Dickey. Directed by Heather Parish.
WHEN: November 6 21, 2015.
WHERE: The Voice Shop. 1296 N Wishon Avenue in Fresno’s Tower District.
WEBSITE: http://www.newensemble.com BOX OFFICE & INFORMATION: 559-3768803
TICKETS: $10.00 $12.50.
THE NEW ENSEMBLE PRESENTS SOLO PLAY “THE AMISH PROJECT”
A poetic one-woman show exploring the Nickel Mines Amish School Shooting of 2006and the ripple effects that tragedy and forgiveness have on a community.
Fresno, Calif. – The New Ensemble (TNE) presents the Central Valley premiere of THE AMISH PROJECT, a
solo-play by award-winning writer Jessica Dickey at The Voice Shop in Fresno from November 6th to
November 21st. At a time when mass shootings happen almost daily in our country, the events
surrounding the Nickel Mines killings stand out in our memories – not only because most Americans
could never comprehend such a thing happening among the pacifist Amish, but because the Amish
families of the victims extended forgiveness to the shooter and condolences to the shooter’s family.
Called “a remarkable piece of writing” by The New York Times and “unique, uplifting, and unforgettable”
by Chicago Theatre Beat, this powerful and poetic piece is a fictional exploration inspired by the 2006
killing of five girls in a hostage-taking at an Amish school in Pennsylvania. One actress (Kristin Lyn
Crase) conjures seven characters, from gunman to community members, to victims and family, and
delves into how communities are indelibly tied together in such a crisis, as well as how forgiveness and
compassion are forged in the wake of tragedy.
“Many people remember the Nickel Mines shooting and still, to this day, the first thing they ask is ‘The
Amish forgave him, didn’t they? How could they do that?’ says director Heather Parish. “THE AMISH
PROJECT’ touches on the how, but more importantly, it explores the why: why forgiveness, compassion
and grace is increasingly important in our society- even during our very worst moments. It is an antidote
to the pervasive blame, shame, and finger-wagging we all experience in our daily lives.”
“Jessica Dickey explores this with a very clever trick. She’s taken the factual outline of the events of the
Nickel Mines shooting, but rather than exploit the story in its exactness, she has told it through the loving
lense of fictional characters. These characters are inspired by the events in Nickel Mines, but by making
them fictional, they could exist anywhere. . .and could be in our community right here and now.”
THE AMISH PROJECT first appeared at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2008 and has since
been performed internationally. Playwright Jessica Dickey has been awarded the Barrie and Bernice Stavis
Playwright Award from the National Theater Conference 2015. The Stavis Award is given to an emerging
playwright for outstanding achievement in American theater.
The Amish Project plays November 6, 7, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20 & 21 at 8 p.m. with Saturday matinees on
November 7 and 14 at 2 p.m. at The Voice Shop, 1296 N. Wishon Avenue in Fresno’s Tower District. THE
AMISH PROJECT is rated PG-13 for moments of adult language. Tickets are $10.00 in advance or
$12.50 at the door. Advance tickets are available online at http://www.newensemble.com. Will-call reservations
can be made by calling or texting (559) 376-8803. For more information about THE AMISH PROJECT or
New Ensemble presents ‘Gidion’s Knot,’ a parent-teacher battle for the ages. 10/23/14 The Fresno Bee
Gidion’s Knot Presented by The New Ensemble. 10/29/14 Kings River Life Magazine
Fresno Bee/Beehive Review: http://fresnobeehive.com/archives/19710 May 2nd, 2013
Kings River Life Review: http://kingsriverlife.com/04/24/gross-indecency-the-three-trials-of-oscar-wilde-presented-by-the-new-ensemble/ April 24, 2013
Fresno Bee Preview: http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/04/18/3264101/new-ensemble-play-casts-woman.html April 19, 2013
Last night’s opening of BAPTIZED TO THE BONE was received with a standing ovation and praise from audience members.
“Incredible piece of theater here!! So impressed by what three performers pulled off tonight…..poignant, intense, funny, twisted! Superb work, ya’all!” says Jacquie Broach
“What a riot. Serious. Sad. Funny. Tragic.” says Peter Robertson
“TNE’s ‘Baptized to the Bone’ at Brokenleg Stage was EXCELLENT!! Fun, funny, poignant, SEXY!!” exclaims Brian Rhea.
Make your plans to see this fantastic piece of independent theater in Fresno soon!
Hayley Galbraith on “Baptized to the Bone”. FresnoBeehive.com/Fresno Bee
Big Theater Week Ahead. FresnoBeehive.com
Opening: Baptized to the Bone. FresnoFamous.com
Interview: Heather Parish- The New Ensemble Theater Group. Gay Central Valley