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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

The Amish Project

The Amish Project
By Jessica Dickey
Directed by Mark Edward Smith
Starring Trenell Mooring
Mad Cow Theater, Orlando FL

Who knew Lancaster County was that ethnic? In this charming land of buggies and apple butter tragedy struck, just as it can anywhere. In 2006 an man murdered 5 young Amish students and himself; his intention was to molest them first “but the police showed up sooner than I thought.” It’s a tawdry and heart-breaking story, here reduced to an impressive yet confusing one woman show. Mad Cow veteran Trennel Mooring is an interesting selection for this program, but she’s also the woman who can stand up to this script. Perhaps a half dozen characters appear from the little Amish girl who pleads “shoot me first!” to the clerk at the convenience store to the parents of the dead children. Told in the currently popular “Devised Theater” style, the story fractures into small scenes that reveal little by themselves, but in ensemble they provided a 360-degree coverage. The stage is shallow and full of ramps. Mooring’s physical location often aligns with the person she’s reporting. Behind her we see a wonderful wall of blue sky and puffy clouds; it’s a perfect countryside backdrop for a horrific tale of the brutality man has for his fellows. High in the light bars hangs a skeleton of a barn (or perhaps a school house with a large door). Dramatic lighting shifts the shadows back and forth, again indicating scene and character changes. Could I report the story in detail? No, people pass in and out too quickly for me to accurately track them. But the takeaway is blunt: sad things happen to good people, and few beyond the Amish would offer condolences to the killers of their precious offspring.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit

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