By Anamika Dutta, Features Editor
Sō Percussion presented A Gun Show at the College of the Holy Cross, on Feb. 10, 2017. Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, Americans were shaken by the senseless tragedy. Processing the grief and confusion was overwhelming, and sparked national outcry across the political spectrum. Sō Percussion found a way to cope with their emotions constructively through the production of A Gun Show. The performance urges a conversation about one of the most controversial issues facing our nation: gun control. Because the right to bear arms is such a deeply-rooted and personal issue amongst Americans, A Gun Show was not created with the intention of pushing a political agenda onto the audience, but rather, to initiate dialogue between audience members and the rest of America as they acknowledge how to best protect the public while not infringing on personal rights.
Throughout the performance, multiple instruments and voices coincided to create a sense of conflict. The composers––Ain Gordon, Emily Johnson, Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting––explained that as they tried to fully encapsulate the emotions associated with guns, consensus and clarity in the performance started to fracture. The percussionists, who were joined by Holy Cross students Andrea Bucknam, Patrick Connolly, Jared Crosby, Francis Dwyer, Sydney Grosskopf, and Michael Shun, have varying experiences with guns, depending on if they grew up in rural or suburban areas. Because of the conflicting views across the spectrum, attempting to incorporate gun-related death statistics, humanizing victims, and constantly changing the stage set-up, Sō Percussion set the goal of creating a complicated work about a complicated subject.
\Hand movements originally performed on snare drums set a rhythm to the performance. The percussionists incorporated the total number of gun-related deaths in 2015 into the movement by gesturing the numbers “3, 1, 5, 1, 3” on their fingers and setting a beat to that number. 31,513 deaths by guns were emphasized throughout the performance. The percussionists used Russian sniper rifle parts as instruments to convey the personal attachment many Americans feel with their guns. However, they also implied how simple it was to obtain these rifles online. Conflicting feelings about guns were the center of the performance, as one moment would be filled with loud, echoing drums and intensified speaking, while the next moment would fill the air with a sense of peace and longing. The performance humanized victims of gun violence by retelling their stories in relation to their friends and families. It is a reminder that each of those 31,513 people brought joy to the world, and that they are not just statistics.
An audience member summed up the performance in a short phrase: “One word: powerful.” We were left speechless by the potent portrayal of how guns affect all of our lives. With shootings becoming more commonplace around the country, we cannot afford to remember, but then forget the next day. Although we are filled with anger, misery, and confusion, A Gun Show urges us to sing when our voices feel the faintest.