1000 Hills – A Staged Reading

1000 Hills – A Staged Reading is a Heads Up piece written by company member India Burton. Set in 1994 during the Rwandan Genocide, 1,000 Hills follows three tourists who become entangled in the midst of the deadly mayhem. As tensions mount, the tourists, who bond with the locals, have their morals and emotions put to the test. With young actors playing old, white actors playing black and females playing males this show puts the audience’s imagination to the test. Originally intended to become a fully realized production, the binders have become an important and intricate part of our performance.

Our October 2010 presentation was accompanied by a canned food drive for the First Grace food pantry.  Audience members were encouraged to bring non-perishable food items in exchange for discounted tickets.

The Ensemble

TJ Jozsa
Kim Woodworth
Nici Romo
Caorl Eutsey
Sarah Taylor
Avery McCullough
Rosilyn Jentner

Playwright: India Burton
Director: Benjamin Rexroad
Director: Heather Beyer
Director: Greg Grimes
Stage Manager: Nick Kannel

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Photos by PeaSea Photography

A Review of 1,000 Hills

On Friday, October 22nd I took to opportunity to witness Heads Up Productions’ presentation of 1,000 Hills: A Staged Reading. I’d heard from others that this production was very good, but little did I know how good until I witnessed the production myself!

The story is about a mix of individuals who ended up in Rwanda in 1994. Some lived there. Some were visiting. All had their own stories. In the end, all found themselves in a very terrible circumstance, much bigger than themselves.

Rarely do I have opportunity to witness a production that is as gripping as this production! Although a complex story, the story was developed very well as we got to know each individual very intimately. My daughter, it is true, was one of the actors, so I naturally have a special interest in the production. However, I could not privately enjoy the extra-ordinary job my daughter did in comparison to most other actors on stage this time. Every actor did a superb job portraying the variety of individuals they represented. Yes, each actor portrayed three or four participants in the unfolding drama, but don’t let this scare you away. Each actor did a superb job portraying their characters with clarity and, again, gripping authenticity. I had no difficulty following the story line, as I sat on the edge of my seat throughout the production.

This production was presented using a minimalist approach — and very effectively. Without any complex set design or costuming, marked by an occasional, brief and griping drum beat, scenes and participants changed as events unfolded rapidly. The clarity of both character and story development was superb. I felt like I was right there! This story took me well beyond the understanding I’d gained in news releases at the time, into the heart of people’s experiences. The superb character portrayals and minimum set design naturally encouraged me to fill in the details, using my own imagination, as events unfolded. The monsters are much more gripping and terrible when I cannot actually see them! This effect worked very well in the present production, to bring the challenges faced by each participant into full view, with a griping emotional impact!

Heads Up Productions really caught my attention with this presentation of 1,000 Hills. This production brought very close to home recent historical events that were created and delivered by humanity upon humanity, despite, in some cases, heroic best efforts. Although this story occurred on another continent, I left reflecting upon how and if I am doing all that I can, to be of assistance to humanity in ways that really matter, right where I am. I am interested to see what else Heads Up Productions has up their sleeve for the coming season!

~Dr. Norman Jentner
Akron, Ohio

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