The Amish Project—without the Amish

Dark Glass Theatre is presenting Jessica Dickey's The Amish Project at The Nest.

Kelsey Krogman plays Carol in The Amish Project.

The Amish Project is a sentimental fictionalization of a tragedy.

In 2006, a shooter entered a school in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He held ten girls hostage and shot eight of them, killing five. The Amish responded with forgiveness, reaching out to the shooter’s wife and three children and establishing a charitable fund for the family.

That’s powerful source material, but playwright Jessica Dickey fails to do it justice.

According to director Angela Konrad’s program notes, Dickey didn’t interview any of the people directly affected by the Nickel Mines shooting. That’s too bad because, if she had, she might have created a more resonant script.

Instead, Dickey contents herself with superficial poetics. The play’s actors repeat the headline “Man enters Amish schoolhouse and opens fire” so often that it quickly moves from being heavy-handed to being tedious. In an effort to present innocence, Dickey has a young character named Velda mime drawing endless stick figures. And Velda’s older sister Anna floats about as a ghost—like a refugee from Our Town— tenderly observing her parents and community.

None of this lands. None of it has the ring of harsh truth or genuine beauty. It’s just made up. [Read more…]

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