On June 12, 2016, a terrible tragedy happened at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Forty-nine innocent souls lost their life while enjoying a night out with their friends. This event rocked the LGBTQ community all across the country. Not only was this one of the largest attacks against the LGBTQ community in our country but also one of the deadliest mass shootings in the United States and the deadliest terrorist attack on the US soil since September 11th. From this tragedy, action was needed to give a voice to a community that has long suffered. But this is not just a LGBTQ issue, this is an issue for all of humanity, and that is just the group that The Orange Ave Project wants to give a voice to. A voice for all of us.
Connor Norton along with AJ Palacio and a group of other artists wanted to create a piece that would educate about the issues that are involved in the events at Pulse. Not reenact the events of that night, but the impact that one night can cause on so many people’s lives. Norton and his group of artists and interviewers visited Orlando twice in 2017, in June and October, to speak with and interview survivors, friends, and family of the victims and the Orlando community as a whole. During these two visits, they conducted 85 interviews and have over 200 hours of material to use to create The Orange Ave Project. Out of these 85 interviews, they have interweaved 12 together to tell their story in this Workshop performance. The time they spent in Orlando gave them a perspective of the tragedy from a different angle. None of the people involved in the interviewing had any personal ties to the people of Orlando but after visiting and getting to know the people they spoke with, they are now friends, kinsman and want to bring this story to life so audiences can see the other side of the event. Not just the recreations and dramatizations that are sensationalized by the media but what Orlando and the community are really going through and really dealing with. The hope is that this show sparks a conversation and helps people see that it is okay to talk about these things and that it is okay to push for the issues, morals and beliefs that they have to protect our humanity. Not just one group, not just one night but for us all to have one pulse.
The Orange Ave Project is conceived by Connor Norton and written by Haley Sullivan & Colin Asercion. “In the wake of tragedy, communities are quick to speak and never listen. They’re quick to post ‘thoughts and prayers’ rather than listening to those the most affected and seeing what it is they truly need. The Orange Ave Project endeavors to use this unique style of theatre to bring the words, struggles, and community conversations being had in Orlando to theatre stages across the country. We want the audience to join us next to Lake Eola with the voices of so many beautiful, brave, and empowered souls as we truly hear and see them in a way we need to learn to do better in our society today,” says Connor Norton.
The Orange Ave Project begins May 25 through May 27, 2018 with performances Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. This is a first workshop production of this piece and will give all the artists involved feedback on the next steps in their creative process. This is an amazing opportunity for all of us to take part in such a wonderful experience. Tickets here.