Nickel Mines is a play that just wrapped at the New York Music Festival performed at Duke Theater. It is a very unique play in that it demonstrates not only forgiveness, but also empathy toward the local Amish community. The play is based off of the 2006 tragedy of ten Amish girls. Five were shot and five were injured by 32-year-old Charles Carl Roberts IV who later turned the gun on himself.
Manhattan Digest recently talked with sisters Sophie and Emma Hearn, who were performers in this play. They had some pretty thoughtful insights on what the play meant to them and the message they hope it carries to the audience.
MD: How long did you have to spend rehearsing for the play?
Sophie: We had from July 10-27th, and it was the quickest technical rehearsal that ever went on. We utilized our time as best as we could.
Emma: It was artistically intriguing, which motivated us during the rehearsals.
MD: What is your favorite part about being in the play?
Emma: I love being in the same play as my sister. I also love the staff and the message of forgiveness and compassion that the play portrays. It is also an invaluable experience working in theater because you can have an impact on the audience.
Sophie: Despite all the tragedies and shootings that are happening recently around the world, which impacts everyone, the play really gives me the escape from all of that and helps me focus on forgiveness and I’m hoping that the audience can see this too.
MD: How often have you performed in the play?
Sophie: There have been five performances in total, which we have been a part of. On Wednesday there was the opening performance also a technical rehearsal from 9 AM until 6 PM.
Emma: It is important that when we were rehearsing we kept it a lighthearted environment, but we also respected the content of the play
Sophie: I had a solo in the beginning of the play which was about a prayer, which really symbolized hope and reconciliation. This solo of the play also had to do with the Amish tradition and the theatrical aspect of the play.
MD: How would you define the show and its success?
Emma: My favorite song from the play is performed by The Fisher Family called ‘You Were First’. There is a lot of backstage choreography which is an emotional retelling of events without a moral aspect. The play is really unique in the way that it gives the audience different perspectives and it is really relatable to families who might have been through similar situations or tragedies.
What message are you hoping that it brings to the audience?
Sophie: I’m hoping that it brings forgives and peace to the audience. It takes a really selfless person to perform the act of forgiveness and I’m hoping that the audience can see the message of how the people were able to forgive the murderer.
Emma: It is really freeing to forgive and I’m hoping they are able to have empathy and walk in someone else’s shoes after watching this performance. I hope that this performance can spike a conversation and that individuals can apply this to certain events going on around the world such as the elections and the recent attacks.
MD: What is great to you about the show?
Emma: I’ve found mentors throughout the show who have helped and inspired me along the way. We have bonded outside of the theater and it has made the experience worthwhile. It was great to form these connections and have such diversity within the theater. I also enjoyed how I could have an impact on the audience from getting the message out there.
Sophie: The process was really creative and it was a way for the audience to see a conversation that isn’t through dialect. The dancing and choreography was very unique and brings the message to the audience. It was a way to express myself but it is also a way to express the message to the audience so that they can see a different perspective and not just hear it through words.
MD: Have you ever had any embarrassing moments?
Sophie: The chairs were really rickety which was part of the show and it was funny to hear them squeak. Also during the choreography, there was a slight incident while I had to get dressed in between scenes on stage.
Emma: During the opening scene when 911 was called, this never happened, so there were three minutes of straight silence. Everyone’s knees were really hurting and all we could here was “guys move!”
Overall, the girls said it was nice to be able to a show together. It was great to be able to look at each other on stage and feel the connection of you own sister being there. It was empowering to be able to tell the story together. For more information about Nickel Mines, check out the official website.