bring healing after tragedy in 'Midsummer in Newtown'
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[January 27, 2017]
By Patricia Reaney
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A new
documentary shows how a children's play helped the
people of Newtown, Connecticut, find solace and a sense
of community after a disturbed gunman slaughtered 20
first graders and six educators in their town four years
"Midsummer in Newtown," which opens in U.S. theaters on
Friday, follows the young actors from their first auditions to
opening night as Michael Unger, a New York-based freelance
theater director, and his team ushered them through a pop/rock
adaptation of William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer's Night Dream."
"It was a way of using art to try to find meaning in places
where these children were a little shell-shocked," said the
film's director, Lloyd Kramer. "It bonded them through the
Many of the children in the play had been in the school during
"He (Unger) thought the play would be an opportunity for them to
do something that was the antidote to the worse that happened up
there," Kramer said.
Through the play the children regain their confidence, blossom
in their roles and share a sense of fun and hope.
The film focuses on two students, Tain Gregory and Sammy
Vertucci, and parents Jimmy Greene and Nelba Marquez-Greene,
whose daughter Ana was murdered in the shooting. Gregory lost
one of his best friends and Vertucci also knew someone who was
Although the shooting is an underlying current in the
documentary, which was filmed more than a year after the
tragedy, Kramer does not concentrate on the event.
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"It is there because you need to have context and what makes people
even more inclined to cheer on these kids is that they faced this
horror," he said.
"We were very careful to put that in balance with the main story,
which is what they are doing about it."
Greene, a jazz saxophonist who performs in the film, found comfort
in his music and the Grammy-nominated album "Beautiful Life" that he
recorded in honor of his daughter's life.
For Kramer, Greene's comments in the film sum it up most succinctly.
"You can't choose what happens to you in this life," Greene said,
"but you can choose how to respond to it."
(Editing by Daniel Wallis and Bill Trott)
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