GREAT FALLS – On December 14, 2012, people’s lives in Newtown, Connecticut were forever changed.
C.M. Russell High School drama is presenting 26 Pebbles, a play about empathy, sympathy and community.
26 Pebbles was written by Eric Ulloa, an actor and writer, who wanted to explore how the people of Newtown could attempt to move on from 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting that took the lives of 20 school children and 5 adults.
Five months after the tragedy, Ulloa went to Newtown and interviewed 60 different people of the town.
During the play, each CMR actor plays the different roles of those 60 people, with their words and feelings telling multiple sides of the story from that very tragic day.
The play is titled 26 Pebbles because there were 26 people who died, like pebbles thrown into a pond, created ripples and vibrations that were felt far beyond the initial rings. This play is the story of those vibrations.
CMR Drama Director Chris Evans said he picked the play because he read an article online titled, ‘Why Every High School Should do 26 Pebbles.’
Evans said, “I’m not a fan of doing the same thing over and over again and I’m also looking for challenges for the students to do. I am interested, as Eric Ulloa was, how does a community take a back-breaking blow like the Sandy Hook school shooting and how do they come out of it?””
CMR Junior Bailee McMaster said they’ve been preparing to do this play since the beginning of the school year.
“Being still in school, I think it’s important that adults understand what we go through with these kind of things, the lock down drills and why we have them,” Bailee said. She added, “I think it’s really important that everyone kind of gets a feel to ‘This is real, this is actually happening.’ “Oh, we’re a small town, this could never happen to us, Sandy Hook was also a small town.”
Bailee said if you are planning to attend the play, to bring your tissues.
The play will offer limited seating, between 90-100 seats, due to the seating being on the stage.
CMR Senior Jacob Collins said the reason for this is because as it’s a real story, they wanted the audience to feel closer to it.
Jacob said, “These names are real names, these people are real people. These are real things that they’ve said. I’ve done more than a dozen plays in my lifetime now and this was the first one where I had to step back and look at myself and say ‘Am I willing to do this piece?’”
26 Pebbles will be held on March 28-30 at Bill Williamson Auditorium on the CMR High School Campus.
Curtain time is 7:30.
After the play, the CMR actors will offer a “talkback” session allowing the audience to talk to the actors about the play.
Tickets are $6 for students and senior citizens and $8 for general admission. For ticket information, you can call 406-268-6117.
Reporting by Kasey Herman for MTN News