Forgiveness can be welcome, but sometimes it is baffling. That’s the story explored in Dark Glass Theatre’s “Amish Project” by Jessica Dickey.
Based on true events in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania in 2006, this powerful play explores the challenging path of forgiveness.
A gunman enters the school in an Amish community, orders all the men and boys out, then starts shooting. When it’s over, five girls and the gunman are dead. Five other girls do not all escape unscathed. One lives in a persistent vegetative state. Other lives are destroyed, including the shooter’s wife and children.
Current cast-member and student in acting school in Rosebud, Alberta, Anna Dalgleish, reflects on her Richmond roots.
“My time in Richmond at Gateway and Richmond Christian School was totally formative to where I am today and the path I have chosen,” Dalgleish said.
“We did the Amish Project over the summer (in Rosebud, Alberta). The woman who directed it, Angela Konrad, is in charge of Dark Glass Theatre here. She kept thinking this play is right at the heart of our mandate; to lift up stories that have not been heard, to offer stories that let us sit in a challenge and not necessarily come out with clean answers.”
She says the stories that Dark Glass Theatre really champions are the ones that really let people see through another person’s perspective to see an event or a problem through another’s eyes.
“So this story is full of that, considering the other people to be ‘other’ people.”
She says to the non-Amish, it is the Amish who are the “other” while to the Amish, it is the outsiders whom they see as foreign.
“One of the characters I play is a half-Puerto-Rican girl so she is yet another kind of ‘other,’” says Dalgleish.
In light of such a horrific event, the targeting killing of young women in a pacifist community, the community chooses to forgive the murderer.
In a story told through different people, this fictionalized account of the aftermath shows the struggle to forgive and the effect of the sometimes unwelcome forgiveness as everyone touched by this massacre comes to terms with it.
While the names have been changed, the emotions haven’t.
“We hear from people ranging from the gunman himself to some of the victims, the young Amish girls, the store clerk at the store outside of the Amish community, to the wife of the gunman. So, through these various characters, although it’s fictional, we get a really human sense of people just grappling with the story,” Dalgleish says.
“It’s a wonderful full-circle moment that I went to Alberta and now get to come back and share this with a home crowd.”
Dark Glass Theatre’s production of The Amish Project runs for six performances Feb. 20 through 23 at the Nest Theatre on Granville Island, 1398 Cartwright St. in Vancouver.
Each performance is followed by a talkback with the cast, moderated by a special guest.