Apollo West Carson Players perform Christmas play in honor of the victims who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook shootings.
Local play troupe’s annual production paid special tribute to Sandy Hook shooting victims this year.
“I want you to stop and think about what happened in Connecticut,” play director Marvin Clayton told the audience during his 17th annual Christmas production in Carson Sunday.
Clayton and his young acting troupe, the Apollo West Carson Players (ages 5-12) sent out prayers and good will toward the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School, the scene of a horrific mass murder December 14 that left almost 30 people dead, most of them children. After the moment of silence, the actors performed “A Christmas Happening 2012,” a series of skits and a variety of Christmas songs including classics like “Frosty the Snowman” and “Silver Bells.” The theme: “finding good news during Christmas” amidst the world’s chaos and violence.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first year the kids had to pay tribute to tragedy. This year’s massacre was especially violent. However, the anti-violence theme has been a long running one.
“When we first started it was a different type of play,” Clayton explained.
“We were helping the Carson Sheriffs with their annual toy drive. We still do that annually. [But] my brother came up with the [anti-violence] concept after Columbine.”
That was in the spring of 1999, when two Colorado high school students shot and killed 12 people and injured 21 others before turning their guns on themselves.
“It’s a new version (of violence) every year,” said Clayton.
“Last year it was Carson High School where there was a drive by and three kids got killed. The year after, it was Taft High School in the valley so we incorporated that. This year, even before the Connecticut situation, we had one of our members who was shot and killed in a drive by about two months ago.”
The productions, he said, serve as kind of an open forum for the kids to talk about the incidents and how they are affected by them.
“We talk to them about it and our main thing is that they have to express to the audience how they feel about what’s going on,” Clayton said.
The little ones ended the program with a heartfelt rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World.” The Sentinel caught up with Clayton the day after the show, to get his take on the gun control debate, brought to the nation’s forefront in the wake of last Friday’s tragedy.
“I think it would curb the violence as far as, when a person buys a gun. I don’t think they do enough background checks on people who purchase guns. Even though some people have a clean record, we don’t know what mental state [maybe]… we don’t know about their kids,” Clayton said.
“From what I understand, [the shooter’s mother] was taking him to gun ranges… I guess if you have a gun, you should know how to use it safely but if he had those types of mental problems, I don’t think it was appropriate to be showing him how to use [assault rifles]. I think it should be harder to get guns like that.”
The Apollo West Carson Players will soon be inviting the public to their annual Black History Month program at the end of February, Clayton said.