"Natural Shocks" promo photo by Scot Gerdes

Sopris Theatre Company, a student and community theater enterprise of Colorado Mountain College (CMC), will open its 2023-2024 season with Lauren Gunderson’s 2018 one-woman monologue show, ‘Natural Shocks,’ on Oct. 13-14 at 7pm. The show is directed by CMC’s Theatre Operations Manager and Artistic Director Brad Moore and stars talented Glenwood Springs local Bostyn Elswick as Angela, the sole character.

Thanks to an arts and culture grant from the City of Aspen and sponsorship from U.S. Bank, ‘Natural Shocks’ will be touring the state. One of the most notable stops is the Colorado Theatre Festival, dates and venue to be determined.According to Elswick, the show is an introspective, deep and hard-hitting look into Angela’s life which touches on individual and collective traumas.

“[The show] deals with domestic abuse and how that ties in with gun violence and other issues that are super present in today’s society, unfortunately. It gives us a space to share a story about how those things can manifest,” Elswick explained. “The last thing that Brad, myself or any of the team wanted was for it to sound preachy. It’s more just sharing a woman’s story.”

Elswick has been involved in the Valley’s theater community for nearly a decade. Starting as a freshman in high school, she has appeared in productions by Defiance Theater Company and Thunder River Theatre Company and as a frequent talent for Sopris Theatre, having recently appeared in its productions of “Frankenstein: The Monster/The Man?” “The Voice of the Prairie,” “Silent Sky” and “The One-Act Play that Goes Wrong.”

Moore has collaborated with local organizations for this production, including Advocate Safehouse Project in Glenwood Springs and the Colorado Law Enforcement Training Academy. These organizations have been actively involved in the rehearsal process and will be present for talk-back sessions featuring trauma-informed workers supporting Elswick, the crew and the audience.

Moore explained that he felt the show needed to include experts on domestic and gun violence. “We wanted to make sure that we were honoring, understanding and delivering the material in an authentic and deliberate way,” he said. “I want to make sure we are not missing any of the nuances.”

According to Elswick, she was approached by Moore to read for the role of Angela, and things fell into place from there. She expressed both nervousness and excitement for the production.

“My favorite aspect is the levity that this character has, the levels of her personality that shine through are incredible. She’s so funny and incredibly intelligent, which I love to see in a woman’s role,” Elswick said. “The hardest part, at least for me, has been the emotional aspect of the show. As I mentioned, it deals with some very dark themes, and they’re all real in a sense. So it’s a little exhausting to have to work on some of those scenes, night after night.”

Elswick said she feels she is growing as an actress with this production and also praised Moore’s guidance and ability to empathize with her. She said he has gone above and beyond to make the rehearsal process feel like a safe space.

Asked what audiences are in store for, Elswick said they should be prepared to go on a “wild ride” that will hit close to home. “I think everybody will be impacted in a different way,” she stated. “I just hope people will be open-minded. When you deal with a hard subject matter, it can get really political or targeted, but I want everybody to witness it and feel however they feel.”

She also expressed hope for those in attendance to walk away with more knowledge about domestic abuse and gun violence and empathy for the people impacted. Moore echoed, “My hope and goal as the director is to present strong and thought-provoking theater. There are moments of absolute hysterical laughter, and there are moments of deep, painful exploration. It’s going to be a powerful piece. Audiences need to be prepared.”  

To get tickets for “Natural Shocks” and for updates on Sopris Theatre Company’s 2023-24 season, visit www.bit.ly/CMCtheater or call 970-947-8177.