Dan Froot and Company to Present ARMS AROUND AMERICA Podcast and Theatrical Performances

A six-episode podcast launching on June 30, 2024, followed by live theatrical performances in Los Angeles, Miami, and Helena.

By: Jun. 15, 2024
Dan Froot and Company to Present ARMS AROUND AMERICA Podcast and Theatrical Performances
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Fostering dialogue around pressing social issues in the U.S., Dan Froot & Company (DF&Co) is a Los Angeles-based theater troupe known for their collaborative approach to theater-making, and for positioning art at the center of civic discourse. For their latest project, Arms Around America, the group will explore the stories of real families from around the country whose lives have been shaped by guns. Artistic Director Dan Froot and his compassionate associates spent several years conducting six book-length oral histories of families in Southern California, South Florida, and Western Montana. These oral histories provide the basis for DF&Co's world premiere offerings: a six-episode podcast launching on June 30, 2024, followed by live theatrical performances premiering in Los Angeles (November 15 & 16), Miami (February 21 & 22, 2025), and Helena (February 28 & March 1, 2025). For more information on these immersive auditory and live experiences, please visit: https://www.danfroot.com/arms-around-america.

Arms Around America began in 2018, when the Parkland Florida shooting happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. At the time, Froot and his crew were performing in nearby Miami. Parkland compelled DF&Co to investigate the U.S.'s polarization on guns, and paralysis over gun violence. The methodologies used in creating Arms Around America developed out of DF&Co's previous audio theater work, Pang!, which investigated the relationship of hunger to housing insecurity, immigration bias, and gun violence.

Over the course of eight months, oral historian Tula B. Strong conducted ten one-hour interviews with two participating families in each locale. Five years in the making, the interviewees included – among others – hunters, active military, survivors of suicide and domestic violence, and people who have used firearms to threaten or hurt others. Interview prompts were designed to elicit stories related directly or indirectly to ways in which guns have impacted families' lives, and to obtain deep background and context on those stories. Every interview was transcribed verbatim and made available to the respective families for approval and/or redaction. Each family's oral histories provided the basis for DF&Co's script adaptations into the audio dramas that would become both the podcast series and live stage shows. The oral histories themselves will become available to the public for free later this year through UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.

Arms Around America is produced and directed by Dan Froot. He is also the lead writer, host for the podcast, and acts as foley sound effects artist for the podcast and staged performances. The acting ensemble—for the podcast and/or stage shows—includes Natalie Camunas, Donna Simone Johnson, Christopher Rivas, Justin Alston, Sola Bamis, Krysta Gonzales and Anthony Rey Perez. The show's music is composed by Julio Montero and performed by Julian Gomez, Tom Moose, Isaac Rodriguez. Sound design is by Duncan Woodbury, lighting design is by Antony Gutierrez, Marcus Kuiland-Nazario is visual consultant, and the dramaturge is Bobby Gordon. Tula B. Strong is Arms Around America's Oral Historian.

By opening a window into these families' lives, the troupe brings together a constellation of stories that represents diverse perspectives and fosters dialogue around the complex roles that guns play in our society. Arms Around America focuses not on guns themselves, but on the ways that fear, love, power, identity, and entitlement are enacted through our relationships with guns, against the backdrop of socio-economic upheavals, culture wars, and other external dynamics. Every member of Dan Froot & Company believes that telling our own stories, and listening to others', decreases fear, increases respect and understanding, and helps us all learn how to talk to each other (rather than talk at each other) about gun-related issues. Froot elaborates: “Arms Around America experiments with the audio theater format we began exploring in Pang!. Creating a work of national scope around such an urgent social issue, challenges us as artists and activists to participate in wider socio-political discourses. Neither pro- nor anti-gun, Arms Around America is an anti-violence and pro-dialogue project.”

ABOUT THE PODCAST

Each 30-minute episode of the Arms Around America podcast, hosted by Froot, presents a unique immersive audio drama inspired by one family's story. Accompanied by Julio Montero's Latin-inflected avant-folk and rock-n-roll score, the episodes showcase fully-produced 10 to 15-minute audio dramas that tackle serious gun-related issues with the intelligence, imagination, emotional depth, and humor of the families on whose lives they are based. These vignettes are both standalone pieces and springboards for conversations. Community leaders, scholars, and the families themselves join Dan Froot & Company to unpack the themes in each episode.

ABOUT THE LIVE PERFORMANCES

Arms Around America culminates with Dan Froot & Company's world premiere stage performances in Los Angeles, Miami, and Helena, with community dialogues taking place at, and following, the events. Staged as if a radio theater company is performing a live broadcast, the evening-length shows will include four actors navigating a forest of microphones, while voicing dozens of characters. Froot will create live foley sound effects with an eclectic collection of everyday objects. Wholly contributing to the experience is a three-piece band, comprised of Julian Gomez, Tom Moose, and Isaac Rodriguez, who will bring Montero's score to life. The performers will share the stage with eight audience members seated at a kitchen table, who will provide real-time commentary on the unfolding action.

Please note: As part of DF&Co's commitment to “dramatizing without traumatizing,” they will refrain from reproducing the sound of gunfire in both the podcast and the staged performances.

Arms Around America Performance Dates

Los Angeles, CA - World premiere

November 15th & 16th, 2024

UCLA Nimoy Theater - cap.ucla.edu/ucla-nimoy-theater

1262 Westward Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024

Presented by CAP UCLA

Miami, FL - East Coast premiere

February 21 & 22, 2025

Miami Dade College's Lehman Auditorium - miamilightproject.com

Presented by Miami Light Project and Live Arts Miami

Helena, MT - Montana premiere

February 28 & March 1, 2025

The Myrna Loy - themyrnaloy.com

15 N. Ewing Street, Helena, MT 59601



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