America's Most Produced Playwright Lauren Gunderson Announces Free Readings Of Her New Play NATURAL SHOCKS

America's Most Produced Playwright Lauren Gunderson Announces Free Readings Of Her New Play NATURAL SHOCKS

America's Most Produced Playwright Lauren Gunderson Announces Free Readings Of Her New Play NATURAL SHOCKS On April 20, 2018 In National Campaign Of Theater Activism Against Gun Violence

Theaters, universities, high schools, and community groups across the country stage readings of the unpublished play to raise money for gun control and domestic violence nonprofits

Modeled after her Inauguration Day project when she made her play The Taming available to theaters for royalty-free readings on January 20, 2017, Lauren Gunderson and her team of producers have coordinated an ambitious national campaign of theater activism against gun violence with royalty-free readings of her new play Natural Shocks taking place across the country April 19-23, 2018. That timing is intentional: April 20 is the 19th anniversary of Columbine and the day of the National School Walkout, organized by the students activists in Parkland, Florida. Professional theaters, universities, high schools, and community groups are pairing their readings with town halls, audience talkbacks, and fundraisers for nonprofits like Everytown For Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action.

If her name sounds familiar, it is because American Theatre Magazine calculated that she is the most produced playwright in America in the 2017-2018 season. (Last year, she came in second behind August Wilson.) Gunderson has a knack for writing plays that fit well in communities across America, and Natural Shocks is no exception, with the one character SHE described as "probably 40 years old, maybe younger, maybe older" and can be "any race, from any region, with any accent."

Natural Shocks is a classic Gunderson play: funny, inspired by Shakespeare (in this case, Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech), featuring a richly-drawn female character, and with an unexpected ending that will stay with you long after you leave the theater. It also happens to be completely of-the-moment, with a storyline all too familiar in 2018: one that is inescapably intertwined with gun violence. In fact, she finished the first draft of the script only two weeks before the Parkland shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. So when that tragic shooting hit the news on Valentine's Day, she knew she wanted to use the play to drive awareness, conversation and, ultimately, action.

"I was a junior in high school when Columbine happened in 1999 and it spurred me into activism instantly," Gunderson said. "I was 17, a teenager like all those amazing kids in Parkland who are taking up the cause of their lost classmates and making the biggest difference in this issue I've seen in my lifetime."

It is also not lost on Gunderson that many of the Parkland activists that have emerged to lead the #NeverAgain movement are theatre kids. "Nineteen years later, here we are, another school shooting, but finally a freshly invigorated and seemingly unstoppable movement brewing. Use this play to start conversations, to build networks of support, to gather people and give them some place to go to congregate and say enough. We are the undeniable force of nature that will light up this darkness and change it forever."

Anyone interested in staging a reading can email by April 6, 2018, for more details and to request the royalty-free rights. More information, including an up-to-date listing of readings, is available at

As of April 3, 2018, there are nearly 80 readings spanning 38 states. A flagship reading in New York City will be announced shortly. Producers on the project include Leah Hamos, theatrical agent at The Gersh Agency; Corinne Hayoun, head of the NY office of MANAGE-MENT; and Christina Wallace, tech executive and theater producer.

Lauren M. Gunderson is the most produced playwright in America of 2017, the winner of the Lanford Wilson Award, the Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and the Otis Guernsey New Voices Award, she is also a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize and John Gassner Award for Playwriting, and a recipient of the Mellon Foundation's 3-Year Residency with Marin Theatre Company. She studied Southern Literature and Drama at Emory University, and Dramatic Writing at NYU's Tisch School where she was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship. Her work has been commissioned, produced and developed at companies across the US including South Cost Rep (Emilie, Silent Sky), The Kennedy Center (The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful And Her Dog!), Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The O'Neill, The Denver Center, San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre, Synchronicity, Berkeley Rep, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, Crowded Fire and more. She co-authored Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley with Margot Melcon, which was one of the most produced plays in America in 2017. Her work is published at Playscripts (I and You, Exit Pursued By A Bear, The Taming, and Toil And Trouble), Dramatists (The Revolutionists, The Book of Will, Silent Sky, Bauer, Miss Bennet) and Samuel French (Emilie). Her picture book Dr Wonderful: Blast Off to the Moon was released from Two Lions / Amazon in May 2017. and @LalaTellsAStory

Related Articles

View More NationalTours
Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You

Before you go...

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram