Friday, September 16, 2016

The Gun Show—CoHo Productions—NW Portland

Fire Proof

This one-man show is written by E. M. Lewis, directed by Shawn Lee, starring Vin Shambry and co-produced by Lee and Shambry.  It is playing at the CoHo theatre space, 2257 NW Raleigh St. (parking is a challenge in this area, so plan your time accordingly), through October 1st.  For more information, go to their site at or call 503-220-2646.

“The right to bear arms,” boy, does that open a can of worms.  But an even larger tin being unveiled of those squiggly things is, “thou shalt not kill.”  So, in one corner of our arena we have the Liberals in which, according to the audience in the talk-back afterwards (the majority), would just as soon get rid of all guns, but the Conservatives feel we should stick to our Constitution and allow everybody to have weapons.  The answer probably lies somewhere in-between.  But, what to do…what to do?!

The play focuses on an individual (Vin Shambry) growing up in rural Oregon, who was raised around guns, used for hunting (for their food) and I suppose, if necessary, defense.  They had to depend on one another because the closest help for any emergency was over an hour away.  Plus our country was started this way with Settlers having arms for hunting food and defending our land from the “savages”…whoops, got that wrong, didn’t I?  Seems we were the invaders, weren’t we?  You see, another “can of worms.”

Anyway it seems that the author, Lewis, and her boyfriend, Irving, later to be husband, had quite an arsenal of fire arms and loved to shoot just for the hell of it.  But, thrust forward a few years into the future, and we have this person now working in a book store and being confronted by an individual who robs the place and has a gun at her face.  All of a sudden your perspective changes as to “bearing arms.”  Obviously you don’t want that robber having the right to weapons, do you?!

“We remember awful things best,” according to Lewis.  She’s right.  The Media connects with this issue by reporting mostly the dirt, the underbelly of people and our society because, quite frankly, “good” doesn’t sell and, after all, first and foremost, the Media is all about making money and pushing their agenda.  Greed and Power, the Ruling Forces.  But, got sidetracked again or, maybe not, because I think the real intent of the author/creators of this piece, is to get us to relate, think and talk about these issues, and so I am (and so should you be).

But, power forward again, to now just 13 years ago, and tragedy hits even closer to home.  I’ll have to pause here on that note and say that you’ll have to see it to discover the outcome of her story.  In fact I’ve only skimmed over the stories because Lewis, and her alter-ego, Shambry, are such marvelous storytellers that my explanations pale in comparison.  This is, without a doubt, one from the heart and soul.  It is not to be ignored.  It is not to be trivialized.  It is to be heard, digested and solved!

My own personal story is only mildly connected.  My Dad and his family were from rural Virginia and grew up, probably, much the same way Lewis’s did.  My father raised his family expecting us to be hunters and fishermen, much like he was.  But, although he taught me how to shoot a rifle, I had no intention of killing an animal myself, as we could get meat, if we wanted it, just by going to the store, which means, of course, that someone else was killing the animals for us, but at least it wasn’t me pulling the trigger.

And I was a Conscious Objector, as I felt killing was wrong regardless of circumstances, during the Viet-Nam War and served two years working with emotionally-disturbed children, instead (my Dad loved the Service and almost became a career soldier).  But, my Father, God bless him, never lectured or judged me because of my beliefs and, for that, I believe he was a more tolerant person than most.

This all brings me to my point.  If we could take Hatred and mental disease out of the picture, then most of the rest of individuals might have the “right stuff” to be bearing arms.  But, how do we do that?  Tolerance for all beliefs, as long as we are not harming others, is the key.  A good mantra to follow might be “treat others as you would like to be treated.”  That might change one’s perception on violence and being armed.  Well, I’ve had my say.  Now it’s your turn.  Of course, that means you have to see the play, doesn’t it?!

Lewis’s script is, to say the least, thought-provoking.  A heart-felt, well-versed example of one person’s journey “to hell and back again.”  Lee keeps the play personal, as it should be.  And Shambry is an excellent translator of those thoughts and emotions.  You feel you may be sitting in a room alone with him as he tells his tales.  All people have stories, and stories within stories, and we are interwoven into the fabric of all of them.  A final thought for those who have become too complacent, as is mentioned in the play:  “We have met the Enemy and He is Us!”

I recommend this play.  If you do choose to see it, please tell them Dennis sent you.

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