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2018-2019 SeasonThe Gun Show (Can we talk about this?)

Press Release: Quantum Theatre’s “The Gun Show (Can we talk about this?)” Engages in Community Conversation

By February 8, 2019August 29th, 2023No Comments
Quantum Theater


PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — Quantum Theatre presents EM Lewis’ timely and topical play and plea for understanding. The writer hopes that the power of personal storytelling can unite people of differing experiences, backgrounds, and opinions. Quantum adds an element to the moving offering of Lewis’ story by taking this show on the road in an unprecedented way. To emphasize all participating artists’ desire to make a safe space for differences, Quantum has found three very different locations for the show, in three quite different Pittsburgh neighborhoods. After opening in Homewood, The Gun Show (Can we talk about this?) will move to the North Side and finally, Sewickley.

Though her gender-neutral professional name masks this fact, EM Lewis is a woman, Ellen, and she wants you to know that. She’s made a name for herself (the Playhouse Rep staged her play Heads in 2014, for which Lewis won the Francesca Primus Prize), that continues to grow. 2018’s Magellanica is a recent epic, acclaimed work at Artists Repertory Theater in her native Portland, OR, reported to “masterfully embrace theatrical elements… creating intimacy… poignant musings on science, nature, and humanity” (Oregon Artswatch) – also covered by The New Yorker. The Gun Show (Can we talk about this?) isn’t like any of her other plays. She tells her story, offers it up, in the mouth of an actor (interestingly, a male actor, who makes clear to the audience that he stands in for her – Quantum’s show stars Andrew Smith, who premiered the role in New York’s Women in Theatre Festival with Project Y Theatre Company.) Where is Ms. Lewis coming from? She has a complicated relationship with guns. Noting that proponents of positions right and left on the subject of guns talk past each other, with unassailable certitude pulling equally on their ends of the rope, Lewis set out to bridge their divide. The story does not come from the right or left.

Quantum has listened to interesting, wise-beyond-her-years Lewis, on the way productions of the play have served as midwife to communities, yielding up their own stories, and in a room of stories, it has seemed that those on the opposite ends of the rope can talk to each other. The play says, “The commentary is killing the conversation.” We need to talk from what we have in common: We all want to be safe. “What’s stopping us from figuring this out?” Ms. Lewis’ website quotes James Baldwin, and she no doubt looks at more than gun control through this lens: “The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers.”

Sheila McKenna directs Andrew Smith, revisiting the important role he helped create. The design team (C. Todd Brown, Steve Shapiro, Tucker Topel and Angela Vesco) add light-touch visual and aural components. But the ‘Quantum-izing’ of this production lies in its three locations, and even in the journey to ascertain them (thoughtful rejections of the idea of hosting it came from suburban high schools, hospitals, and Jewish-affiliated spaces, among others.) Director Sheila McKenna says, “we sought places of community learning and community convening.” The play is approximately an hour, and each performance will be followed by a facilitated 15-minute talk. Quantum hopes to gather the stories of Pittsburghers, at or after these brief talks.

Proceeding from the idea of finding the most credible places of politically neutral learning and convening, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Homewood has been an excellent partner, welcoming Quantum into its warm auditorium to build and open the show. CCAC’s main Allegheny Campus on Pittsburgh’s North Side is an excellent follow-up (where the show will take place in the beautiful student art gallery in historic West Hall). The school serves diverse students from a wide radius in the region. And finally, reaching audiences farther north and west of the city, even into West Virginia and Ohio, The Tull Family Theater welcomed the third hosting spot. Suburban pockets of poverty and rural areas surround Sewickley, a small town that is known as the home of many affluent families.

Each community will have special events accessible to all.

The Community College of Allegheny County has provided its facilities as a public service and is not a sponsor nor responsible for the views and/or opinions of Quantum Theatre

Special Performances:

  • Pay What You Can Night on Tuesday February 6
  • Opening/Press Night on Friday, February 8, with a post-show champagne reception.
  • Post-Show Q&A on Sunday, February 10, Q&A session with the cast and team.
  • Social Q on Wednesday February 13, a reception and look at Pittsburgh through Quantum’s eyes.
  • Quantum Quaff on Thursday, February 14, a pre-show wine tasting event.
  • Quantum-on-the-Couch on Saturday, February 23, a post-show discussion of the psychology of the characters led by Dr. Manuel Reich, Psychiatrist and Artistic Director Karla Boos.

For press tickets please contact: Stewart Urist,

Now in its 28th season, Quantum Theatre is a company of progressive, professional artists dedicated to producing intimate and sophisticated theatrical experiences in uncommon settings, exploring universal themes of truth, beauty, and human relationships in unexpected ways. Quantum Theatre is devoted to eclectic experimentation, staging its works in environmental sites that inspire directors, designers, and performers, and delight audiences. They reflect Pittsburgh’s character, history and architecture, and are as different from one another as a grand museum, an abandoned industrial site, a modern office tower, a beloved City lake, and a waterless indoor swimming pool. The company is influenced by theater artists working in new ways around the world, often bringing such artists to its Pittsburgh laboratory, where Quantum assembles unusual artistic teams, empowers creativity, and nurtures bold ideas.


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