St. Louis-based That Uppity Theatre Company and the University of Central Oklahoma are proud to announce a series production of a new play by acclaimed playwright Eric Ulloa, “26 Pebbles”. Presented in partnership with the Missouri Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and “Painting for Peace in Ferguson”, the play combines live music, singing, and interviews from Newtown residents as they recount the ripples in their community in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The play isn’t merely about trauma; it is also about how a community banded together to heal and reshape their community in the wake of what is both a local and national tragedy.
“We were delighted that when the University of Central Oklahoma was looking for a partner to co produce this groundbreaking production, they thought of us. For over 25 years, we have tried to bring art to the St Louis area that deals with the critical issues of our times and instigates difficult and necessary conversations,” said Joan Lipkin, Producing Artistic Director of That Uppity Theatre Company. “We are especially pleased to be sponsoring a student production because, as the brave students from Parkland have made clear, students are essential leaders in determining the course for our country regarding gun control.” Lipkin said that she had deliberately sought non-traditional spaces for the performances to engage new and diverse audiences about the power of art.
“The College of Fine Arts and Design at the University of Central Oklahoma is thrilled to partner with That Uppity Theatre Company to bring our production of “26 Pebbles” to St. Louis audiences,” said Emily Heugatter, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts and Head of Performance at University of Central Oklahoma. “Playwright Eric Ulloa spent months in the community of Newtown following the 2012 tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. In that time, he learned firsthand of the town’s love, resiliency, and strong sense of community. He has woven the real words of the citizens of Newtown into a beautiful play that celebrates hope in the face of unthinkable tragedy. At such a tense and divisive time in our nation, we have much to learn from these remarkable people and the stories they share in “26 Pebbles.””
Becky Morgan, Moms Demand Action Missouri Chapter leader, feels personally connected to this community in light of her organization’s mission. “Our organization was founded the day after the Sandy Hook shooting,” she said. “We do this work because every day, 96 Americans die from gun violence and hundreds more are injured. We encourage everyone to attend this important production and to get involved in the gun violence prevention movement.”
“Painting for Peace in Ferguson” a non-profit children’s book, which highlights how art painted on boarded up windows in Ferguson helped that town process the difficult events of 2014, also has a Sandy Hook connection. A week after the story of Newtown is coming to St. Louis with the play “26 Pebbles”, author Carol Swartout Klein is traveling to Newtown to tell the story of how art played a role in the aftermath of Ferguson unrest. “Art has always been a means to help society process change, so it is not a surprise to me that both my book and this play have a similar message about communities coming together,” Klein explained.
“I am thrilled that “Painting for Peace in Ferguson” was selected to be distributed to 3700 school children in Connecticut where we will also be exhibiting about a dozen of the actual murals created on the streets of Ferguson, thanks to the Vicki Soto Memorial Fund.” The fund was created in honor of a Sandy Hook first grade teacher killed protecting her students and aims to share stories about hope and healing.
“I look forward to partnering with That Uppity Theatre Company’s co-production of “26 Pebbles” as both the play and Painting for Peace provide a lens through art into critical social issues of our time. The timing of this arts exchange between the cities of Newtown and St. Louis show how relevant they still are and how much they still have to teach us.”
All performances are free. Donations will be accepted. The Tuesday performance will include a short panel with Carol Swartout Klein, Joan Lipkin and others (TBA) on the role of art to help heal a community. In addition to each post-show conversation, Moms Demand Action will be onsite to provide more information. NOTE: the production is suitable for ages 12+ due to subject matter.
Dates and Locations:
Tuesday, June 19th, 7:00 PM
First Congregational Church of St. Louis (UCC)
Wednesday, June 20th, 7:00 PM
St. Paul United Church of Christ
Thursday, June 21st, 7:00 PM
Christ Church Maplewood UCC
Friday, June 22nd, 7:00 PM
Lafayette Park United Methodist Church
Saturday June 23rd, 2:00 PM
Daniel Boone Branch, St. Louis County Library