Actor Responds To Newtown Tragedy Through Theater
Eric Ulloa was so affected by the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School -- and its aftermath -- that he decided to respond in a way he knew best -- as a man of the theater.
The actor-writer (he is in the ensemble of the current musical at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddan, “The Most Happy Fella”) felt in the months that followed the December classroom killings that the town of Newtown was being driven by a variety of political agenda.
In May he went to Newtown and just started to have conversations with people in the community. “I thought they might run me out of town but the exact opposite happened,” he says.
He completed more than 50 interviews with townspeople ranging from shop owners, to parents of students, to town workers who were touched by the tragedy. “I just let them tell their stories.”
He said the process has echoes of “The Laramie Project,” the acclaimed theater work that followed the 1998 murder of gay student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wy.
“A lot of people hadn’t heard of Newtown before this and I wanted to know what this town was and who were its people. And what happens after such a tragedy -- how does it affect its people?
“It seemed that there was never a moment for the people of this community to grieve or to just talk out what they were feeling [in the months following the killings] What I discovered was that their stories are lessons that we all need to be learning. I am honored to be the one to use their words to create an evening of powerful theater.”