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LOUISVILLE – Louisville students are hoping to spread a message of hope and healing with their one-act play production this fall.

LHS teenagers will be presenting “26 Pebbles” for audiences across Nebraska over the next few weeks. The Lions have been working on the play since August and have a large cast and crew. Forty-nine students are members of this year’s program.

Erik Quam is directing the play and Jamion Biesterfeld is assistant director. Quam said he has appreciated the work ethic from the Lions on a difficult play. “26 Pebbles” focuses on the tragedy at Newtown, Conn., in 2012 and how residents came together during the aftermath.

“We are incredibly proud of every single person in this cast, crew and school who have helped make this production possible,” Quam said. “It’s difficult subject matter. It’s a tough story to tell. This troupe has risen to the occasion and we are positive Newtown would be proud of their work too.”

The 23 students who have speaking roles on stage include Lea Kalkowski, Cedric Moxey, Chrystena Derby, Laura Swenson, Braidy Parrill, William Jones, Jordan Buck, Jacob Peacock, Diana Geditz, Katie Hillabrand, Sarah Riha, Cordale Moxey, Marissa Haynes, Madison Kerlik, Jade Biesterfeld, Kenden Moran, Emi Rupp, Lucas Hrabik, Eva Quam, Jennifer Katz, Dametre Moxey, Cassidy Niemoth and Skyler Pollock.

Sixteen students are helping with jobs such as sound, lighting and set construction. Haleigh Diltz is the lightboard operator and Katie Kerlik is the soundboard operator. Louisville SkillsUSA Advisor Jesse Zweep and students Remington Campbell, Max Yarnell, Ryan Korte, Cole Kerans, Keeley Porter, Josh Hoover and Trevor Switzer constructed the set design objects for the play.

Everett Jones, Lizzie Podrazo, Lanie Holl, Clara Muntz, Wil Muntz, Ella Aaberg and Maddy Nolte all have various backstage roles in the production. They are helping with tasks such as building and taking down sets and arranging wardrobes in the play.

The play focuses on how Newtown residents bonded after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. A gunman killed 20 elementary school students and six adult staff members.

Broadway scriptwriter Eric Ulloa was working as a waiter in New York City on that day. He was approached by a woman in the restaurant who was angry that a certain food item was not on the menu. The disconnect between her selfish attitude and the Newtown tragedy spurred Ulloa to write “26 Pebbles.” He spent the next six months interviewing dozens of Newtown residents to create a script.

Quam said Ulloa’s work centered on the range of emotions that residents felt in the days, weeks and months after the shooting. Those spread from anger and disbelief to hope and healing.

“This is not a play about gun control. This is a play about healing, nurturing and love,” Quam said. “It is a play about hope. This is a play about community. All the words in this play are the words of real people from the community of Newtown, Conn.”

Louisville students will perform a public presentation on Monday, Nov. 18, at the elementary school gym. A dinner will run from 5-7 p.m. and the show will begin at 7:30 p.m. Residents can come for either the dinner and show or only the show.

The Lions will open the competitive one-act season Saturday at Midland University. Louisville will perform in the East Central Nebraska Conference Invite at the Lofte Theatre on Tuesday, Nov. 19, and will travel to festivals at Pawnee City on Nov. 23 and Lincoln High on Nov. 26.

The District C1-1 Meet will take place on Dec. 3 at Nebraska City Lourdes. The Lions will compete against Bishop Neumann, Freeman, Johnson County Central, Lincoln Lutheran, Nebraska City Lourdes, Omaha Brownell-Talbot and Yutan for a state ticket.

“This cast has worked incredibly hard and learned a lot about theater over the course of the past three months,” Quam said. “They should be proud of themselves. We are. As soon as we read the script last winter, we knew the students of Louisville High School would be up to the task of telling this story and sharing it with you this evening. They are amazing storytellers.”

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