Liz Sankarsingh is Angela in Echo Theatre’s production of Natural Shocks

Shock factor

Coming out helped director Sasha Maya Ada level up for Echo’s Natural Shocks

RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer

Echo Theatre celebrates playwright Lauren Gunderson this season with a mini-festival of her works opening this week. The company — which gives focus to works by women+ — will open its season with Natural Shocks: A One-woman Play in the Middle of a Tornado, directed by Sasha Maya Ada.

The show is centered on, of all things, an insurance agent. Stuck in a basement with a tornado outside and a gun in her hand, the character Angela is weathering her own internal storm.

“I think Lauren Gunderson is one of the best writers of our age,” Ada said by phone. “She’s skillfully adapted and broke down Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be speech’ for this story.”

Angela, played by Liz Sankarsingh (understudied by Leslie Patrick), makes her living selling insurance, but when she’s trapped during a tornado storm, she comes face to face with her own demons and finds some realizations about her own life.

“There’s this contemplation of life and death and what it takes to exist,” Ada said.

In her own way, Ada finds parallels with the character — only her situation is not as dramatic as Angela’s circumstances.

Stuck inside with your own thoughts — well maybe there is some drama. And it also sounds a bit close to home: “I came out over the pandemic,” Ada said. “I didn’t know that my queerness impacted my steps along the way, but I can see that in the main character. She’s also having this rebirth in the center of a disaster.”

Sasha Maya Ada

Ada says her job in this hour-long show is to show every possible facet of Angela that makes her exciting and relatable — regardless of life experiences.
“It helped me break down love in its foundation, and there’s this shedding off part of myself,” she said. “I’m centered in my female body, but the spectrum of how people identify and carry themselves is changing. But I am now part of this community, and I exist in that experience.”

With the character, the story allows her to find a liberation that also acts as a safety. Ada can liken that experience to her own. “It’s like right now, where we are in the process is the same,” she said.

Ada also says that her queerness has enlightened her as a director.

“The room here at Echo is open to conversations about queerness. I identify as a queer, Black, Afro-Latina woman, and that inherently impacts how I work,” she said. “There are so many intersections with that and with this work that it makes this a really exciting journey.”

Natural Shocks: A One-woman Play in the Middle of a Tornado runs through May 13. For tickets, visit


Queer directors helm several shows this May

Sasha Maya Ada is not the only out director with a new show this month. She opens Natural Shocks: A One-woman Play in the Middle of a Tornado at Echo this week, but a few other notable directors in the community are opening new productions this month, too.

• Head west for On Golden Pond directed by Theatre Arlington’s Steven D. Morris. For 48 years, Ethel and Norman return to their summer home, but this time, their grown-ass daughter and her new fiancé drop off her son before going to Europe. The show opens Friday and runs through May 21.

• Bruce R. Coleman directs A Light in the Piazza by MainStage ILC. This musical centers on two Southern women who venture to Italy where one starts a whirlwind affair with a man but has a secret to hide. The show opens Friday and runs through May 20 with performances at the Dupree Theatre in the Irving Arts Center.

• Written and directed by Mark-Brian Sonna, MBS Productions will open Adam and Eve in the Garden of Delights in the Studio Theatre at Addison Theatre Center. Sonna puts his clever and funny take on the story that begins everything — literally. The show runs May 11-21.

• Michael Serrecchia takes on angry sports daddies in Frisco. He directs the comedy Rounding Third, about two Little League coaches who approach the sport in two very different ways. The show runs May 12-28.

— Rich Lopez


For tickets, visit