Corner Canyon High thespians to share Sandy Hook stories in ‘26 Pebbles’Mar 07, 2023 04:01PM ● By Julie Slama
In March, Corner Canyon High thespians, seen here in rehearsal, will present “26 Pebbles” based on interviews after the Sandy Hook shooting. (Case Spaulding/Corner Canyon High)
In early March, Corner Canyon High thespians will perform “26 Pebbles,” a play remembering the students who died in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.
The one-act play will be performed at 7 p.m., March 3-4, in Corner Canyon’s Little Theatre, 12943 S. 700 East. Tickets are $6 and are available on cornercanyontheatre.com. The play addresses mature themes such as gun violence and mental illness.
Through the playwright’s 60 interviews with community members in Newtown, Connecticut, he was able to share stories of the impact of the small town, said theater teacher Case Spaulding, who is directing the play.
“I chose it because there is an issue right now with school shootings,” he said. “It’s something relevant and relatable to today. I liked the script; it doesn’t really talk about sides of the gun issue and laws, but instead, it lets the audience answer their own questions. The playwright interviewed a variety of people who in some capacity or another was impacted by the shooting. Some were parents of kids who died, there is the priest and the rabbi who live in town, the police, news reporters—just a compilation of people who were there when it happened and what their experience was. It’s really about how it affected the people and their experiences.”
The Sandy Hook shooting occurred when a 20-year-old man walked into the elementary school, killing 26 people. The title of the story comes from comparing the 26 deaths to pebbles thrown into a pond, creating a rippling affect that is felt beyond the initial rings.
Spaulding asked his students, many who are the same age now as those who had died would have been, to research and learn more about the characters and the community.
“The characters in the play have their names changed, but based off of their experiences, they have been able to find things about them,” he said. “Mostly what they’re doing is they’re really paying attention to what the people are talking about and they’re doing a lot of research around what happened that day. A big part of the play is about community—‘what is a community’ and ‘what does it feel like to be part of the community’ and ‘what does the community look like now?’ They’re looking at how that community recovers from something like this.”
That was an important part of the process in determining the play’s emphasis.
“When I first started asking questions about what they thought the focus of this place should be, almost every student said, ‘I really want the focus to be about how strong this community is, and how they didn’t want this to be their defining moment.’ So, we’re just really focusing on a sense of community and how they’ve become stronger, moving forward,” Spaulding said.
In late January, the 28-member cast and crew were in rehearsals. The piece also will be used for their one-act at the region competition later this spring.
“I want the audience to sense that this community was shattered by it, and what they have gone through to overpower tragedy. I want people to get that sense of love and belonging and knowing that there is a greater good and you can always strive for that, no matter what that is to you. We need to work towards creating communities where people feel safe and loved. This play doesn’t offer a solution, but it’s my hope that we can find one, whatever that might be,” he said. “This story just tells what the town was like, what people did to help, what outside sources did and how it affected them. It’s a great story they share of love and compassion.”