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The issue of gun rights is one that almost everyone has an opinion about and has the rare distinction of being one that is literally costing lives as more and more time goes on. 

All of this makes tackling guns on the stage no easy feat. But those are just the kinds of stories Lakewood’s Benchmark Theatre, 1560 Teller St., lives to tell. And that’s what they’re doing with the world premiere of “Jeremiah.” The show runs through Saturday, Sept. 2. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. 

Written by Tami Canaday and directed by Kate Poling, the show follows four young men (Brandon Billings, Nate Cushing, James Giordano and Kaden Hinkle) who get enmeshed in a situation involving a gun. 

We spoke to Poling about the show, the cast and more. 

Interview edited for brevity and clarity.

What drew you to the production?

The challenge of exploring toxic masculinity and gun culture in a way that everyone in the audience can hopefully relate to. I think theatre can shine a light on issues in really powerful ways, and the opportunity to narrow a wide-ranging and hot-button topic to a slice of life in Aurora was a fascinating and enticing challenge.

Tell me about working with the cast? 

Because this is a world premiere, we are developing these characters without precedent, and it’s been wonderful to work with a group of actors who are finding the humanity of these characters. It would be easy to create stereotypical characters, and I think my cast has done an excellent job of cutting through that to create fully rounded characters. Every character is both hero and villain, and, hopefully, the audience will find a connection to each of them.

With a topic as challenging as the one covered in “Jeremiah,” how do you go about addressing it? 

I think approaching the topic with understanding is the key. While I have my opinions about guns and gun control, the only way to tell a story that doesn’t alienate people is to reflect and understand all sides, and let those sides be reflected within the play.

What do you hope audiences come away with?

I hope every audience member sees themselves reflected in some way. I hope they have a conversation about guns. No matter what side of the gun debate they might be on, I hope every person can connect to the story being told in a way that maybe opens their mind just a little bit. If people are still thinking about this show the next day, I feel like we’ve done our job. 

For information and tickets, visit www.benchmarktheatre.com/tickets-jeremiah

Go back in time at Corral Bluffs 

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science, 2001 Colorado Blvd., is home to a new bilingual exhibit that takes visitors back millions of years thanks to a newly discovered collection of fossils at Corral Bluffs near Colorado Springs. 

After the Asteroid: Earth’s Comeback Story shows visitors how Earth recovered after the asteroid impact 66 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs. It features fossils from the find, multimedia storytelling, art stations and much more. 

Anyone who wants a glimpse at what our state was like in ancient times should visit   www.dmns.org/visit/exhibitions/after-the-asteroid-earths-comeback-story/

A screaming good time at Lakeside 

I can’t really think of a cleverer idea than Denver Film’s annual Summer Scream fundraiser being hosted at Lakeside Amusement Park, 4601 Sheridan Blvd. in Denver. It just the perfect blending of purpose and novelty, making for the perfect evening. 

This year’s event is from 6 to 11 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 24 and will feature a tribute to the 90s with live comedy, music and magic performances, as well as a little pro-wrestling. And that’s not all — audiences also get unlimited rides and nightlong open bars. 

Tickets are on sale at denverfilm.org

Clarke’s Concert of the Week — The Swell season at Levitt Pavilion 

There are a few situations where art and life blend in really beautiful ways and one of my favorites of this century is The Swell Season, the duo made up of Ireland’s Glen Hansard and the Czech Republic’s Markéta Irglová. They were a group before taking on the roles of two star-crossed lovers in the seminal indie musical, “Once,” which earned them an Academy Award. Not long after they stopped performing together but stayed close and they have reunited this year to tour the country.  


The Swell Season will be performing at Levitt Pavilion, 1380 W. Florida Ave. in Denver, at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20 with opener Lizzie Weber. Their music is wistful and gorgeous and I know this will be a fantastic night under the stars.  

Purchase tickets at www.axs.com

Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com