Theatre Department Takes ‘The Gun Show’ on the Road Around the State

The Michigan premiere production of The Gun Show, a non-partisan play about guns and America’s gun culture, is set to take center stage at venues throughout the state, including Michigan State University, thanks to the collaborative efforts of Rob Roznowski, Professor and Head of Acting in MSU’s Department of Theatre, and the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

Written by playwright E.M. Lewis, The Gun Show is a one-actor performance that explores the unique perspective and relationship Lewis has with guns. The narrative leans neither left nor right but instead centers on the question: Can we talk about this?

The Michigan premiere, produced and directed by Roznowski, stars MSU BFA in Acting senior Jala Jackson. Besides the Michigan State University campus, the production will appear at venues in Battle Creek, Detroit, Elk Rapids, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Saint Joseph, and Williamston beginning Sunday, February 9.

The show is a really balanced look at American gun culture. I love how it is non-partisan and certainly wants to talk to people in the middle of this debate.

Rob Roznowski, Director, Producer, and Theatre Professor

“The show is a really balanced look at American gun culture,” Roznowski said. “I love how it is non-partisan and certainly wants to talk to people in the middle of this debate.”

Debuting in 2014 at the 16th Street Theater in Chicago, The Gun Show consists of five stories about Lewis and her connection to firearms. This will be the first solo show as well as the first traveling show for Jackson, who started acting when she was 6 years old.

“The number of casualties is rising and tragedies like mass shootings increase the fear and hysteria in the country,” Jackson said. “This play sits everyone down and does something that nobody is doing...we are talking about guns. It's not a solution. It's not a plan. But we are getting the conversation started.”

Jala_Jackson copy.jpg
Jala Jackson, BFA in Acting senior, is playing the role of playwright E.M. Lewis in the Michigan premiere production of
"The Gun Show." This is Jackson's first solo show as well as her first traveling show.


Roznowski partnered on the project with the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, which booked the play around the state.

“The show has been widely produced previously, and yes, I wish it could be nationwide because it does – in a non-partisan, really non-threatening way – ask the question: ‘Can we talk about this?’” said Linda Brundage, Executive Director of the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. “Rather than having either side sit in their corners shouting, let’s have a discussion.”

This isn’t the first time Roznowski has worked with the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence.

“Rob directed a student production of a play, called Punk Rock, which has a very intensive gun violence scene,” Brundage said. “Rob contacted us to give a presentation to the actors of the play so they could have a more in-depth understanding of gun violence and bring that understanding into their performance.”

This play sits everyone down and does something that nobody is doing...we are talking about guns. It's not a solution. It's not a plan. But we are getting the conversation started.

Jala Jackson, BFA in Acting senior

This past summer, when Roznowski read the script for The Gun Show, he knew he wanted to partner with the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence once more to bring this play to Michigan audiences.

“I knew it would be a great fit,” Roznowski said, “so I offered the Michigan Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence the show, and they have been booking it around the state.”

So far, nine performances are scheduled throughout Michigan with the first one taking place on Sunday, February 9, at 6 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing, located at 5509 South Pennsylvania Avenue in Lansing.

The second performance will take place at Michigan State University in Studio 60 of the MSU Auditorium Building on Saturday, February 15, at 7 p.m. Two other performances also are being planned for MSU’s Summer Circle Theatre in June.

Graphic of an event called "The Gun Show"
"The Gun Show" poster for the February 15 performance at the MSU Auditorium Building.

Complete List of Performances:
 
  • Sunday, February 9, 6 p.m., Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing, 5509 South Pennsylvania Avenue, Lansing
  • Saturday, February 15, 7 p.m., MSU Auditorium Building, Studio 60, 542 Auditorium Road, East Lansing
  • Monday, February 17, 7 p.m., Williamston Theatre, 122 S. Putnam Street, Williamston
  • Tuesday, February 18, 7 p.m., Mott Community College, 1401 E. Court Street, Flint
  • Wednesday, February 19, 7 p.m., Historic Elk Rapids Town Hall, 401 River Street, Elk Rapids
  • Sunday, February 23, 2 p.m., Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain Street NE, Grand Rapids
  • Tuesday, February 25, 7 p.m., Box Factory for the Arts, 1101 Broad Street, Saint Joseph
  • Tuesday, March 10, 7 p.m., First United Methodist Church, 111 E. Michigan Avenue, Battle Creek
  • Wednesday, March 18, 6:30 p.m., Swords into Plowshares Peace Center & Gallery, 33 E. Adams Avenue, Detroit