By Abigail Yasmeen Roberts | Echo
Seven characters, one heart wrenching event, one stage, one woman.
In a telling exploration of the West Nickel Mines Schoolhouse Shooting, alumni Morgan Turner ('16), the solo female lead effortlessly embodies the innocence, pain and anger of an entire grieving community.
As the stage lights flicker and Turner adeptly moves from character to character, audience members find themselves moving closer and closer to the edge of their seats.
Inspired by the killing of five girls on Oct. 2, 2006 in a hostage-taking at an Amish school in Lancaster County, Pa., the play was written in 2008 by Jessica Dickey. Not only reenacting the chilling event itself, Dickey also observes the ripple effect it has in the community after the fact.
"This play wrestles not only with being able to forgive," Turner said, "but being able to be forgiven."
One of the characters Turner personifies, Carol Stuckey, the non-Amish widow of the gunman, wrestles with her husband's "sick act." She becomes the recipient of others' blame, her children's mistrust and the surprising gift of forgiveness. Through Carol's journey of rage and despair to possible peace, we see the transformation that forgiveness brings.
Gripped by the script since finding it her first year at Taylor, Turner feels honored to be given this role and the rare opportunity to return to Mitchell Theatre.
"It is a blessing seeing the play fully realized and the script given the full production it deserves," Turner said. "It is like going back to the beginning where I began, in a very redemptive way."
Taylor remembers Turner as a vibrant force on the Taylor stage 2012-2016, performing in 10 shows and starring in Taylor's award winning show, "Rabbit Hole."
Turner is currently working as a director and teacher of Shakespeare to inmates at the Pendleton Correctional Facility as well as performing in and auditioning for shows in Indianapolis.
Joining Turner are fellow theater alumni working as production staff for the show, Conner Reagan ('17) as lighting designer, Erin Gautille ('17) as set designer, Tamara Peachy ('17) as stage manager and assistant director, Andrew Davis ('17) as trailer producer and Natalie Smiley ('17) as costume designer.
For the student theater staff, it has been rewarding working on a one man show.
"It is nice because you can do the things you have to do well," said sophomore Elizabeth Carrier.
Heavy to receive and heavy to give, "The Amish Project" stands as an exceptional example of high-quality acting not to be missed. The cost is $7 for Taylor students and $10 for Taylor faculty, don't miss this weekend showing, Today at 8 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 16 at 2 p.m.