Messiah theatre presents “Keeping a Good Lent”

LINDSBORG, KAN., March 27, 2012—Bethany College Theatre will present “Keeping a Good Lent,” directed by Professor of Communication Carl Isaacson, Ph.D., during the 131st Messiah Festival of the Arts on Saturday, April 7, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. in Burnett Center.

The performance is free and open to the public. The production explores the themes of Lent—dormancy and renewal—and Isaacson notes that fans of “Stories on Stage” from the Lincoln Center will enjoy it. “My aim,” he explains, “is to give the audience all of the oats, and none of the sugar.”

The performance begins with a reading of Flannery O’Connor’s short story “Everything That Rises Must Converge.” O’Connor’s work features a strong narrative presence, in which the narrator always guides the reader to see what ought to be seen, and to overlook what might be vital—or might be trivial. Set in Mississippi during the early period of integration, O’Connor’s story explores the themes of guilt, confrontation, and the need for forgiveness.

Act 2 focuses on the hints of the beginnings of growth, and features a long cutting from Frederick Buechner’s novel “Lion Country.” In this novel, one of the four that make up “The Book of Bebb,” we meet the evangelist and huckster Leo Bebb, founder of the Church of Holy Love, in Armadillo, Fla. We see Bebb through the eyes of the narrator, Antonio Parr, a New Yorker of the 1960s who is full of sophisticated yearnings to change the world and make it a new and better place. We also meet Bebb’s adopted daughter, Sharon, and Antonio’s dying sister Miriam, as we learn to—in Miriam’s words—“Stay Awake!”

In addition to the two longer pieces, the performance features several short poetic pieces and hymns by Thomas Troeger, an Episcopal hymn writer of note. Student Chelsea Kenyon, Iola, Kan., will sing the hymns.

The cast of “Keeping a Good Lent” includes Isaacson; Associate Professor of Theatre Greg LeGault, M.F.A.; Professor of English Linda Lewis, Ph.D.; and students Kenyon, Dayna Mannebach, Oakley, Kan., Phoenix Hutchinson, Atchison, Kan., Elizabeth Ford, Effingham, Kan., and others.

This is Isaacson’s fifth Messiah Theatre production as either director or presenter. “I believe that the theatre has the power to make the gospel ‘lively’ for today’s audiences,” he says. “People who would never listen to a sermon will gladly share in the telling of a story, if it is a story worth telling and it is told well. We will tell these stories in a way worthy of hearing.”

The Messiah Theatre production will be presented during Bethany College’s annual Messiah Festival of the Arts, when hundreds of guests enjoy the weeklong celebration of sacred music concerts, art exhibitions, and theatre performances. For the full listing of Festival events, visit www.bethanylb.edu//messiah.

Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning and service. Bethany College is on the Web at www.bethanylb.edu/.

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