UCLA TFT commemorates Parkland shooting with staged reading of 'Church & State'

Followed by a post-show panel with a representative from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Women Against Gun Violence and the Hope and Heal Fund

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Parkland, Fla., shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Department of Theater at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (UCLA TFT) and NewYorkRep are presenting one of a nationwide series of staged readings of the award-winning, Off-Broadway play Church & State on Thursday, Feb. 14 at 5:30 p.m. at UCLA TFT’s 1330 Macgowan Hall. Written by Jason Odell Williams, Church & State tells the story of a gun-loving senator running for re-election. He examines his position on the Second Amendment following a shooting at his children’s school. The play explores how religion, guns and social media influence our political system.

Tickets are complimentary and will be available at the venue prior to the reading.

UCLA TFT student Anna Mader directs student cast members Carl Ballantine, Mary Alex Daniels, Beatrice Brown and Jacob Cherry. The creative team includes sound design by Yasmine El-Tayeb and dramaturgy by Danielle Jensen, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and a current UCLA TFT senior. Produced by UCLA TFT students Olivia Robertson and Emma Wenkert.

NewYorkRep is partnering with The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which is providing speakers to lead talk-backs following performances at some locations, including UCLA TFT. Speakers include Loren Lieb, board chair of Women Against Violence L.A.; Stephen Lindly, program manager at the Brady Center; and Brian Malte, executive director of the Hope and Heal Fund.

NewYorkRep Artistic Director Markus Potter noted, “I was proud to direct the off-Broadway production of Church & State, and now honored to partner with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to use the message of the play to stand in solidarity with the Parkland community, to deliver a unified message to the country that we reject blood-soaked apathy and demand common sense gun safety legislation.”

“Using theater to focus our shared conversations on issues that matter to all of us as human beings puts our students at the center of a powerful national narrative with the ability to foster social change,” said UCLA TFT Department of Theater Chair Brian Kite.

“Church & State starts a much-needed dialogue about gun violence prevention,” said Kyleanne Hunter, Vice President of Programs, Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Using humor, we can dive into a tough topic and have meaningful conversations. With a gun-violence prevention Congress now in the House, it is exciting that we can move from thoughts and prayers to action. We’re excited to help facilitate this dialogue.”

Other university theaters that will also present the reading on Feb. 14 include: Indiana’s Butler University; The University of Kansas; Tulane University; Pittsburgh’s Point Park University; Miami’s New World School of the Arts; and North Carolina’s Elon University.

The Los Angeles Times praised Church & State as "gripping entertainment" and "simply superb," and HuffPost called it "powerful, humorous and highly contemporary." Church & State had its New York premiere, presented by lead producer Charlotte Cohen, Off-Broadway at New World Stages in 2017.

Posted: February 14, 2019