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Dickey's one-woman show 'moving'

March 08, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- One audience member summed up Sunday's performance of "The Amish Project" as a "hometown girl done good."

Jessica Dickey, a 1997 Waynesboro Area Senior High School graduate, returned to Waynesboro this weekend with her one-woman show based on the October 2006 massacre in a Nickel Mines, Pa., one-room schoolhouse. She performed twice for sold-out crowds at Trinity United Church of Christ.

"It was really moving and really well done," said Marge Kiersz, who coined the "hometown girl done good" moniker.

Dickey used the performances as part of her "Barn Raising" fundraiser. Although "The Amish Project" debuted in New York City last year, it has yet to be presented in a "world premiere" format in which major theater critics would be invited and licensing deals brokered. The fundraiser has been designed to generate the money needed to host an off-Broadway world premiere.

"After the world premiere in the spring or summer, we'll move forward with a tour across the country," Dickey told Sunday's audience during a "talk back" question-and-answer session.

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Some agents have suggested morphing the show into one with an ensemble cast, she said.

Dickey was on her own this weekend as she tackled a half-dozen characters, each with different voices and mannerisms. The first character she had written, Carol, represented the gunman's widow, an initially unlikeable woman who starts to reveal more of her inner struggles.

"I find her very important," Dickey said.

"I was surprised at the number of characters she was able to portray and make distinctive," said Bob Dee of Waynesboro.

"I thought it was really fantastic," echoed his wife, Terri.

Liz Breed, Katrina Long and Sara Jerde learned about the show from Dickey's sister-in-law, who teaches at Waynesboro Area Senior High School. The students gushed about the show's quality, especially the conclusion.

"Bring some tissues," Katrina warned.

Like many, Chris Fleagle and Jill Payne-Fleagle used their television as a window to the Nickel Mines tragedy and subsequent outpouring of forgiveness from the Amish community.

"We wanted to see how it was depicted in a play," Payne-Fleagle said.

Dickey tackled the forgiveness aspect extensively in her fictionalized performance. She created a scene in which Amish families visit the gunman's widow.

"They kept deferring to me and my grief," Dickey said as the widow. "I said, 'Stop, stop.'"

Dickey is scheduled to perform the show again on September 28 during Waynesborofest.

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