Assistant Professor of Acting Kaja Dunn performed the role of “She” in the premiere of Natural Shocks – A One-Woman Play in a Tornado, a new work by award-winning playwright Lauren Gunderson. The virtual staged reading, presented by the Women’s Theatre Festival, was streamed live on Thursday, March 26, at 7:30 pm EDT via the platform Twitch and was followed by a Q&A with the playwright.
The streamed performance is the third in the new Virtual Play Series offered by the Women’s Theatre Festival (WTF), which is based in Raleigh, NC. Founded in 2016, WTF supports and promotes gender parity, diversity, and inclusion in the theatre community and produces a month-long theatre festival each summer in which all shows are written and directed by women. The Virtual Play Series was launched in response to the shuttering of theatre companies during the coronavirus outbreak.
Dunn’s performance is not the first UNC Charlotte connection to the new Virtual Play Series. The second installment featured a reading of the play Albemarle by UNC Charlotte theatre alumna Caridad Svich (class of 1985). An Obie Award-winning playwright, Svich received the Department of Theatre 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award.
American Theatre Magazine named Gunderson the most produced playwright in America in 2017. Described as “part confessional, part stand up, and part reckoning,” the 65-minute Natural Shocks depicts a woman waiting out an imminent tornado in her basement.
Kaja Dunn is an actor, director, and activist. She has performed in more than 40 plays and has presented her work on race, theatre and pedagogy at University of London Goldsmiths, Black Theatre Network, Actor's Equity, Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) and SETC Theatre Symposium, Kennedy Center American Theatre Festival, and The Association of Theatre in Higher Education among other places. She serves as secretary on the National Board of the Black Theatre Association. She recently directed No Child at Cape Fear Regional Theatre and the workshop of Edges of Time at PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill (the scheduled full production was cancelled in response to the coronavirus outbreak).