Most people who witness the kind of scene that David Barker did in 2004 often take years before they can talk about it. David Barkers not most people.
Six years ago, Barker watched as his brother-in-law fired a bullet into his sisters chest while his 16-year-old niece looked on. Then the man turned the gun on Barker, but the second shot missed his head by inches. That experience led the Arizona State University theater professor to write his one-man drama Dodging Bullets, which he will perform Saturday night at Fort Lewis College. He began writing the play shortly after the incident and debuted it on his home campus in March 2009.
Normally when I do a show Ill get five or six e-mails with some well-meaning but trite congratulations, and before I started this, I thought the response would be: Oh, thats interesting, and thank you for sharing it, Barker said.
Right now I have 20 pages, single-spaced, of messages from people that Ive never met. When I started getting those, I realized theres something here thats different from what Id anticipated. Its awesome.
Barker plays 10 different roles in Dodging Bullets, and the scene of domestic violence in his sisters family only is part of the story. Before that occurrence, he planned to write a story about the trials and tribulations of turning 50, and he also takes the audience through his parents health struggles and much of the soul-searching that comes with advancing age. But despite some heavy themes, the show is not a complete downer.
After a performance in San Diego, some people came up to me and said, Make sure you let people know its funny, Barker said.
And theyre right because that part of its not obvious. Its intense, but theres a lot of humor.
A seasoned theater professional, Barkers flair for the dramatic and ability to carry the action in a Spartan setting is what makes Dodging Bullets work. But the play is getting widespread acclaim, and audiences are relating to it because of its message, which Barker claims is universally beneficial. Hes received enthusiastic responses in Arizona, California and Indiana, and the current tour will take him through five more states.
I really feel when Im doing the show its moving peoples hearts in the right direction because ultimately its a story about forgiveness, how you eventually arrive at a place where you let go of anger, he said.
Dodging Bullets includes mature themes and may not be appropriate for all audiences.