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NATURAL SHOCKS by Lauren Gunderson

  • The Woodland 60 Woodland Road Maplewood, NJ, 07040 United States (map)

Midtown Direct Rep (MDR) is delighted to announce an added free event to its 2017-18 staged reading series, Theater at The Woodland, with a presentation of NATURAL SHOCKS by Lauren Gunderson, a reading of a one-woman play featuring Monette Magrath, directed by Marni Raab. This reading will be performed one night only on Friday, April 20 at 8:00pm at The Woodland (60 Woodland Rd. Maplewood, NJ), where MDR is the resident theater company. The reading is free and open to the public. Tickets can be reserved through Eventbrite by clicking the link HERE. It is also possible to purchase a tax-deductible sponsor ticket for $35 or more to help offset MDR’s direct costs.  

MDR’s presentation of NATURAL SHOCKS is part of an ambitious national campaign of theater activism against gun violence with free readings of this new play taking place across the country April 19-23, 2018, marking the 19th anniversary of Columbine and the day of the National School Walkout organized by the student activists in Parkland, Florida. Midtown Direct Rep will encourage and collect donations for the NJ chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which is also a beneficiary of MDR’s upcoming annual event Listen To Your Mother on April 28 at 3pm and 7pm at The Woodland.

About the Playwright
American Theatre Magazine calculated that Lauren M. Gunderson was the most produced playwright in America in 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

About the Play
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. 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.”

As of March 28, 2018, there are more than 50 confirmed readings spanning 25 states, with pending readings in another 10+ states. Producers on the national 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. More information, including an up-to-date listing of readings, is available at

About the Actress
Monette Magrath
 is an American film, television, and theater actress. She is most known for performances as Lady Bird Johnson in All the Way on Broadway, opposite Bryan Cranston in the 2014 Tony® Award-winning “Best Play.” Screen credits include Steven Spielberg's The Post (opposite Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks), Garry Marshall's The Other Sister (opposite Diane Keaton), and the recurring role of Cheryl on Weeds (opposite Mary Louise Parker). Most recently, she portrayed Amanda in Private Lives at Geva Theatre Center. Other regional credits include Arena Stage, Cleveland Play House, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, McCarter Theatre Center, and many more. She played astronomer Henrietta Leavitt in the world premiere of Laura Gunderson’s Silent Sky at South Coast Rep. Born in Minneapolis, she currently lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her fiancé and their daughter.

About the Director
As an actress, Marni Raab is best known for her extended run as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. She has also toured in the role throughout North America and Asia. Other credits Cats, Carousel, My Fair Lady, The Secret Garden, Camelot, an original one-woman show at LA’s Show at Barre, and many concert engagements. Marni holds a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin Conservatory and an MA in theater history from Brooklyn College. Directing credits include Seton Hall University Theater Department’s recent production of Steel Magnolias at SOPAC, and an upcoming double bill of chamber operas Trouble in Tahiti by Leonard Bernstein and Filthy Habit by Peter Hilliard and Matt Boresi at Lyric Opera of the North. She served for three seasons as Literary Manager for Midtown Direct Rep, programming and co-producing its reading series. Marni currently works as a story analyst for Amazon Studios and is a faculty member at The Institute for American Musical Theatre in NYC. She lives here in NJ with her husband and three amazing step kids.

About Moms Demand Action
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was created to demand action from legislators, state and federal; companies; and educational institutions to establish common-sense gun reforms. Founded by stay-at-home mom Shannon Watts on December 15, 2012 in response to the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the organization quickly flourished into a leading force for gun violence prevention, with chapters in all 50 states and a powerful grassroots network of moms that has successfully effected change at the local, state and national level. In December 2013, Moms Demand Action partnered with Mayors Against Illegal Guns to unite a nationwide movement of millions of Americans working together to change the game and end the epidemic of gun violence that affects every community.

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