Out of Hand Theater is used to tackling material that deals with social issues and gets people talking, but their current show is doing that with an exclamation point. “Conceal and Carry” deals with an extremely topical issue – gun violence in America.
Lee Osorio stars in the one-man piece, serving as its narrator and voicing a few other characters, relating a story about a writer who is riding in a car with a father whose son has been killed in a school shooting. The said character slowly realizes that, as he sits in the passenger seat, the father is headed towards a confrontation with the gun manufacturer. The show also deals with the narrator’s relationship with guns and the history of the NRA.
The one-hour play, written by Sean Christopher Lewis and making its world premiere, is being performed in living rooms around the city and is always followed by a conversation. Originally set to end this week, the play has been extended to February.
Out of Hand is known for hosting home shows every year and with 41 homes already hosting performances of “Conceal and Carry,” it’s the highest-selling show in the company’s history. It’s a perfect ﬁt for the company. “It’s our mission to spark conversations to build a better world,” Osorio says. The company has been working with Moms Demand Action to facilitate the conversations afterward. “People arrive early to grab snacks or dinner, and after the show have been willing to talk about their experiences with guns. Because we are in the South, almost everyone has some kind of experience.”
Osorio likes the play’s balance and refusal to take sides. “It’s not a polemic,” he says. “It’s not preachy or taking a ﬁrm stance on guns. It asks tough questions about why we have the addiction to guns that we have in this community and what the root of that is, as well as fear and toxic masculinity and racism. We get down to the bare bones of it, but Sean doesn’t do in its way that puts people’s guard up. It’s a safe entrée into the conversation.”
The actor, who is gay, has been performing steadily for several seasons now in Atlanta. He won a Suzi Award last year for his work in Shakespeare Tavern’s “The Life and Death of Richard II” and has also been seen in, among others, Actor’s Express’ “Signiﬁcant Other” and Serenbe Playhouse’s “Cabaret,” which he calls one of his favorite theatrical experiences. Osorio, who works at Out of Hand as the communications manager and an artistic associate, read “Conceal and Carry” over the summer and was immediately excited about the project. Though there is no LGBTQ content in the piece, Osorio does feel that LGBTQ audiences can be particularly affected by gun violence.
“I think that all marginalized communities are susceptible to gun violence and not just in the way we normally think of it in terms of being attacked or threatened with a gun,” he says. “There’s also suicide. That is the biggest way gun violence is intersectional the LGBTQIA+ individuals. ” He points to a recent story about a 16-year-old boy Tennessee who was outed as bisexual on social media, had access to a gun and eventually took his own life.