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David Barker's
Dodging Bullets

a one man play

Saturday, October 24, 7:30 PM

$12 in advance $15 at the door

Professor 'dodges bullets' in one-man show

The Old Town Center for the Arts in Old Town Cottonwood, is pleased to announce a very provocative one- man show called Dodging Bullets.

On Saturday, October 24th at 7:30PM, you will come face to face with an experience that changed one mans life. Dodging Bullets is a one man play, voted number 1 by the Phoenix New Times, for 2009, and it comes to Cottonwood for one night only.

David Barker is an award winning actor, director and fight correographer. He is also an accomplished mime, and his work has been featured in numerous publications. David is currently Professor of Theater at Arizona State University in Tempe where he teaches movement and acting, and serves as coordinator of the MFA Performance Program.

On his sabbatical leave during the summer of 2004, David Barker was up against an artistic block. He needed to develop a new solo show that was personal and biographical. But with life approaching 50 years where no major catastrophe or particularly unusual event had ever occurred, he had nothing to write about. Barker, a theater professor at Arizona State University who is known for his solo mime performances, didn’t have to scratch his head too long for subject matter. Two bullets, fired in rapid succession, changed everything.

One of the bullets was aimed at him, and astonishingly, it missed. His sister was not as fortunate, because the second bullet – meant for her – hit her in the chest.

The story of how his brother-in-law, “Dr. Jack,” happened to open fire on him and his sister became Barker’s sabbatical project – a one-man play titled Dodging Bullets.

The play follows three story lines – Dr. Jack’s attack on his wife and Barker; Barker’s father’s emergency surgery and declining health; and Barker’s mother’s dementia. Dr. Jack, a semi-retired, successful East Coast brain surgeon, had been abusing his wife for many years, and his wife finally moved out. On the fateful day of the attack, Barker accompanied his sister and 15-year-old niece on a stop at the sister’s home to pick up asthma medication for his niece.

“I went along to protect my sister,” Barker said. “We approached the house and Dr. Jack appeared at the front door and ordered me to leave. Dr. Jack is a high-strung control freak, so when I refused to leave he attacked me. We grappled briefly and he ran back into the house. My sister, niece and I were in complete shock. He came back with a gun and began to fire.”

The rest of the story is a dramatist’s dream, a soap opera come true. The SWAT team arrives, snipers are placed on the roofs of the houses across the street, and Dr. Jack stays holed up for four hours, but finally turns himself in and is booked into the county jail. Dr. Jack’s sister bails him out, but he is arrested again for trying to buy a handgun and spends the next 10 months in federal prison. Shortly after his release he marries an Episcopal priest but he still had not faced his attempted murder indictments.

“It’s invigorating to perform this show because everything actually happened. I’m not performing about imaginary circumstances as I usually do” said Barker, who also works as an actor and fight choreographer. He knew early on that the traumatic experience would make for vivid storytelling. "My sister was approached by Maury Povich and 'The Montel Williams Show,' but she declined," he says. "She said she was holding out for 'Oprah.' "

Barker plays 10 different roles including his mother in this compelling drama. Dodging Bullets includes mature themes and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

This event is co-sponsored by the Verde Valley Sanctuary. Following the play, several staff members will be present to address questions about domestic abuse, and spread awareness about what options are available in the Verde Valley to confront this growing problem.

Dodging Bullets Selected Press

"Dodging Bullets is theatre as it should be: challenging and compelling."
~ Michael Switzer, Emmy Award-winning Hollywood Director

“A bravura performance. Barker walks a fine line between sentimentality and generosity of spirit.”
~ Matthew Wiener, Artistic Director, Actors Theatre of Phoenix

"Dodging Bullets is meant to be seen by the masses. It is powerful, entertaining and very real. It helps put life in perspective and leaves you wondering what is most important. The acting is superb and the message is profound".
~ Maureen Christensen, PhD, Family Counselor

“…stranger-than-fiction quality adds visceral entertainment value to ‘Dodging Bullets’.”
~ Arizona Republic

“…powerfully expresses the way in which the violent events which precipitated the play still live in the performer’s body. …a significant piece of creative work from a unique theatrical voice…”
~ Phil Thompson, Head of Acting, University of California at Irvine

“You'd be hard pressed to find another arts practitioner in the Valley (or maybe anywhere) who knows more about the use of the instrument that is the human body, or who has more access to physical range and control, as well as an understanding of how perception, thought, and emotion dovetail with the body's systems. But Barker's a human being, too. It's fascinating to watch as he portrays his struggle to deal with the impact of the violent, traumatic event on himself and his family. While it's probably extra-interesting for his fellow artists and for other survivors of violence, it's an evening that everyone can relate to, largely because of Barker's clarity and humility as a performer and Ben Tyler's sympathetic, pinpoint direction.”
~ Phoenix New Times

Phoenix New Times Best of 2009
Best One-Man Show: David Barker's Dodging Bullets

His sabbatical leave during the summer of 2004 led to a crisis in David Barker's life. Like many artists, Barker, a professor of theater in the Herberger College of the Arts best known for his mime performances, turned that crisis into art. Dodging Bullets details the day that Barker's brother-in-law opened fire on him and his sister, the gunman's wife. The bullet intended for Barker missed him, but his sister was hit in the chest. It's a testament to Barker's skill as a playwright and performer that he made this tragic tale — which he's preparing for a remount, we hope very soon — both amusing and enlightening.


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David Barker



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