Civic Theatre takes part in "plays to end gun violence"
SOUTH BEND, Ind.— Today marks the 8-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown Connecticut, which changed the lives of many, and took the lives of 26.
Simultaneously today, 50 theatres across the country performed a series of plays to promote an to end gun violence, including The South Bend Civic Theatre, but nationally and locally. For one of the actors who participated in the series, the gun violence series hit home.
In May of 2020, Deona Murphy lost her boyfriend, Kelvin Stanford Jr. to a senseless act of gun violence. The tragedy is still one she and his loved ones are trying to process every day.
“It was an act of gun violence and it was crazy. Shocking. I’m still in shock about it, it took a toll on a lot of people because he was very well known in the community and he touched a lot of souls,” Murphy said.
Stanford’s mother, one of the head organizers of the non-profit organization, Connect 2 Be The Change in South Bend, partnered with the South Bend Civic theatre to perform a series of seven, 10 minute-long plays to try curb gun violence called #ENOUGH. When Murphy got the opportunity to participate, she jumped right in.
“We were talking about this play that she had assigned to her and she wanted me to help her with it because she felt as though it felt in my category,” Murphy said. “It really did touch me because I could relate to it more, because I experience it in real life.”
Around 20 other local middle and high school student actors participated in the series along with Murphy, all shining light on different perspectives of gun violent acts that our nation and city struggle with yearly.
“Hearing from not just national playwrights but hearing from our own participates that they’ve been affected by this, it ground this, it adds that’s gravitas that makes it all the more important to do the work justice,” South Bend Civic Theatre Executive Director Aaron Nichols said.
According to the South Bend Police Department Transparency Hub, violence has increased in 2020.
In 2019, 11 people lost their lives to criminally assaulted shootings, and in 2020 there have been 17 deaths.
“The fact that the numbers in South Bend are rising, I think stories like this that get to the heart, that really capture the day to day reality of this instead of just a number instead of just a statistic, that will awaken people’s hearts I hope to the urgency of this,” Nichols said.
Opening eyes and continuing the discussion is the goal.
“I just really wanted to open eyes, I just really want everyone to know that this is something to take serious and it’s not a joke anymore. Because there are lives that have been taken and like I said I can be a loved one, someone you might see tomorrow or today and you don’t see them again, Murphy said.
All of the proceeds to the virtual performances are going to Connected 2 Be the Change.