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Bang, Bang, You're Dead Takes ACT Audiences by Storm!

Artists Collaborative Theatre’s backbone is educational programming.  The students may begin young and grow with their ACT training, or join in along the way.  Once a theatre has a golden core group of students, what are the choices in their next stages of training?  One choice is to connect theatre to life and use their performing talents in hopes to make the world a better place.  Social message theatre has an edge that must be supported by strong cast members who come together as an ensemble to deliver that message with power and honesty.
Bang, Bang You’re Dead is showing now through April 20 at Artists Collaborative Theatre (ACT) in Elkhorn City under the executive direction of Stephanie Richards and the artistic direction of Lauren Brooke Stewart.
The play is presented by ACT’s International Thespian Society Troupe, a student honorary organization that serves students grades 9-12 and is backed by the Educational Theatre Association.  It was written by William Mastrosimone in 1999, in the wake of school massacres in places like Columbine, Paducah, KY, Jonesboro, AR, and Springfield, OR. Stephanie Richards, ACT Executive Director, states, “The sad thing is this script is just as relevant as it was in 1999. Our students today should be looking at Columbine as history, not a beginning of a social trend in young people.” 
Bang, Bang You’re Dead tells the moving and emotionally powerful story of one high school student who was bullied, ridiculed, and pushed to the edge.  As a young man lies in a jail cell for having committed unspeakable crimes, five of those he murdered earlier that day enter his cell demanding answers. When Josh evades their questions, they become akin to a chorus of Greek Furies who torment him, make him re-live events, and drive him toward the threshold of remorse. Through Josh’s own memories, the victims reveal what may have been warning signs, question whether the tragedy could have been prevented, and explain that the deceased are not the only victims of gun violence.
Artistic Director, Lauren Stewart describes the social and self-study these high school actors have dived into in order to bring the truth and raw edge this show has required. “People may think our local students are protected by our mountains and rural geography, but our students all know what bullying feels like, how judgment sounds, to what extreme people will go to make themselves feel bigger or better.  They have all had to decide whether or not to let harsh words tear them apart or find a way to grow through them.  They all have had that moment of choice of whether to step in and then how to help a fellow classmate who is being attacked either verbally, emotionally, psychologically or physically as many onlookers, sometimes adults, laugh and move on.”
Jordan Adkins and Keeli Collins, two cast members, say they still don’t know what makes some students feel the pressure of bullying more than others.  But they do know the answer can only be to treat everyone with care and respect.
Richards says, “ACT has made every effort for this production to be a production that resonates with our young people; middle school, high school and college.  The preshow music is pretty rocking and insightful.  The slam poetry language and the lighting and mask effects are daring.  Our adult population also needs to see this to have a tiny glimpse into the hateful world of today’s teens that our generation didn’t really know.”
ACT is immensely grateful for show sponsor Rodney Scott.  As Pike County jailer who also a candidate for sheriff, Scott is very concerned about bullying in the county school system.  With his job, he regularly sees both the perpetrators and victims of violent acts and the affects that those acts have on everyone involved.
The cast of Bang, Bang You’re Dead features Treyton Blackburn as Josh, Tyler Sullivan as Michael, Keeli Collins as Katie, Matt Blair as Matt, Kaitlyn Howell as Jessie, Kristen Coleman as Emily, Adam Mullins as Voice 1, Jordan Adkins as Voice 2, Emily Chaney as Voice 3, Tara Buckley as Voice 4, and Cody Sullivan as Voice 5.
Crew members include Lauren Stewart on lighting, set, and sound design and Ashley Ratliff and Lauren Stewart as light and sound board operators.
Don’t miss your chance to see the show that audiences are calling "beautiful", "inspirational", "amazing", and "life changing". Performances of Bang, Bang You’re Dead will take place at ACT in Elkhorn City (207 N. Patty Loveless Drive) through April 20.  Show times are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm and Sunday at 3:00 pm. The show is rated PG-13.
Tickets are $9 each and available at the door, by calling (606) 754-4228, or online.
*Special Note: There will be no show on Thursday, April 17th due to three cast members, Jordan Adkins, Tyler Sullivan and Cody Sullivan, signing up for their college classes at Morehead State University.*

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