26 Pebbles: In Memory of Sandy Hook

Kassie Araque, Feature Writer

“These are real people’s real stories, you can’t find these online.” 

– Zoe Strong

Nearly seven years after the Sandy Hook Shooting, Braswell’s Bravo Company prepared to open their show 26 Pebbles by Eric Ulloa. The hour-long play focused on the way Newtown, Conn. began to heal as a community following the event. 

The play followed 19 people’s stories six months later and brought to light the life changing events that took place, December 14th, 2012.

“It’s about the town coming together after the tragedy and not letting it define them,” said Zoe Strong, the actor who played Jen, a mother who lost her first-grader.

Over the last four weeks, an estimated 70 hours of rehearsal have been put into the production of the show. The company met up nearly every day after school in addition to Saturday workdays. Those involved were hard at work, and even with nearly 50 people composing the cast and crew, the team faced a few obstacles along the way.

“We’re doing new things tech-wise that we’ve never done before and we have a mix of experienced and new actors who have never done anything like this before,” said Ben Parker, one of the play’s directors.

26 Pebbles was Bravo Co.’s first production to include projections and was more monologue driven than anything the company has done before. It’s also one of the company’s more serious pieces, comparable to last year’s Women of Lockerbie, which brought more than a few tears to the audience’s eyes as the nature of the play hit home for cast and audience members alike.

“It’s such a very real show,” said Makenzie Milhizer, the stage manager. “It’s hard to not let it bring you back into the mindset of when it happened since we were all elementary kids when it happened.” 

Many company members recalled the script being hard to read; some even needed to take a step back when it got too intense. However, the play was not about violence and rather focused on how the community coped with the loss of 20 students and six staff members, and the different ways people dealt with their tragedies. Some characters talked to spirits, some got angry, and some turned to religion for closure.

“[The topic] is very prevalent in today’s time,” Strong said, “from shootings last year, to lockdowns we’ve had here, it’s very eye-opening.” 

The Bravo Company’s next show Anatomies, opens October 24th.

Madi Welburn