Story Corps

Placeholder Image Poster for If I Don't Make It
photo credit: Noah Abrams/KRCB

"If I don't make it, I love you."

On February 14th 2018, Sarah Crescitelli texted those words to her mother, as her school, Marjorie Stoneman-Douglas High, was enveloped in a torrent of violence that shook the Parkland, Florida community, and the nation.

In their 2019 book, editors Amye Archer and Loren Kleinman compiled the histories and memories of mass shootings in America; from the 1966 University of Texas Bell Tower shooting in Austin, to 2018’s Santa Fe, Texas shooting.

Now, stories from Archer and Kleinman’s book will take the stage for a debut theater adaptation in Healdsburg.

KRCB spoke with actors Jeanette Seisdedos, Craig Peoples, and Stephen David Martin, artistic director of the Raven Players and Director of If I Don't Make It, I Love You on stage at the Raven Theater before dress rehearsal.

J: "The United States has had 2032 school shootings since 1970, and nearly 948 have taken place since the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Nearly 300,000 students have been on campus during a school shooting since Columbine High School, and every person on the wrong side of a bullet is someone's son, sister, father, or friend...this whole production is giving voices to the survivors of those stories."

"And so the great thing about this is we give voices to so many different people who are affected by this and some people that you wouldn't really expect cause you really do think about the victims, but a lot of times you don't think about the people who survive and how hard it is for them to live on."

C: "All we get is we get thoughts and prayers. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. I mean, it's just some of the things you say just by rote thoughts and prayers and really it's, it's got to go way beyond that. So it's got to go to, you know, keeping it in your mind and what can I do to help?"

"What can I do from an action standpoint? Could it be as simple as voting? Could it be as simple as, okay, let 'em see more. Or more complicated as, you know, getting into outreach do right.

J: "Like Mom's Demand Action."

NA: What was it like to act in something like this, to take in the lines to immerse yourself?

J: "For me, it was extremely hard. My piece is Sandy Hook, and I am a mother of two kids who are seven and six...and they're the ages of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary. For me, it's extremely hard to do this piece because as I'm talking about these kids, I'm picturing my own children,"

C: "I mean, I almost didn't do the play just because I felt I was almost invading this man's, his grief and this man's real grief, his real sorrow. So, so it's not, it's not a character you're playing. It's taking somebody's personal and interpreting and, and, you know, bringing that into yourself, what you think that person was feeling. And so, and I did a lot of preparation."

"I watched a lot of, lot of the trial that took place, my character is the father of two sons that were involved at Stoneman School in Parkland, Florida," Peoples said. "I watched the person, I'm portraying him and his wife standing up and reading letters to the judges. I've, you know, watched Alex Jones, who I referenced to from that standpoint, an actor's preparation. It was just having to dig in and try to just you know, take part and, and share that pain that he has."

S: "So I read the book in 2019 and I thought, well, I'm going to read this book and I'm going to, cause you know, this is fascinating. I thought I'll get through it in a few days, and I couldn't because there's 60 stories from 21 schools and I got, I could do three or four at a time, and then I just had to stop."

"And so, and when I read it, I thought, well, this should be on stage somehow, and I reached out to Lauren and Amy, and Lauren responded right away and said, you know, absolutely, we'll do whatever we can to help you with this."

"I felt like it's one of those things where, you know, people say, hey, you're know, oh, course you're doing it in Sonoma County, you're preaching to the choir, and yeah that may be true, but the choir still has to be preached too."

"And one of the things that frustrates me, and one of the things that really bothers me is that there's all these people out there trying really hard to get something changed and nothing ever changes. And then, you know, then you think, well, maybe I'm not doing enough, and kind of honestly, I want people to leave this theater feeling uncomfortable. Like, we're not doing enough. Obviously, we're not somehow, you know, we can blame it on the president, we can blame it on the Congress. We can blame it on a lot of people, but something's happening that we're not doing enough to stop at all."

"So I'm hoping you know, that this sort of doesn't let the conversation fade away, that it keeps people engaged...I hope it makes people uncomfortable, mad, and saying, well, what can we do?"

If I Don't Make It, I Love You premiers March 24th at the Raven Theater in Healdsburg and runs in two separate parts through April 9th.

Students from Healdsburg High School have planned a number of public art projects around the theater and city plaza to raise further public awareness of violence in schools.

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