Posted by Bruce Miller
It is time once again for Central Virginia's Acts of Faith Festival--the largest faith inspired theatre event in America. Now in its sixth year, Acts of Faith is a collaboration between faith communities and Richmond's professional theatre companies. This year's Festival began on Jan 15 and will run through Mar 21.
The Festival was initiated and continues to be convened by Second Presbyterian Church. Joining Second Pres as co-sponsors are Bon Air Presbyterian (my church), Congregation Or Ami, First English Lutheran, First Presbyterian, St. Bridget's Catholic Church, St. James Episcopal Church, and Tabernacle Baptist. If your congregation is interested in joining in this annual celebration, you and they would be most welcome.
The good folks who manage the Festival describe the mission as follows: "The Acts of Faith is a way to bring the community together in a shared discussion about how faith and values shape our public and private life. Using theatre as a vehicle to illuminate issues and questions, the Festival facilitates conversations about the arts and faith and encourages unity within diverse traditions.
Throughout the winter, fourteen Central Virginia theater companies will offer a selection of plays and will sponsor discussions after many of the performances. These post-performance conversations are intended for audience participation and will include the plays' director, cast members and theologians.
Discussions will address topics such as why the play was chosen for the Festival, how cultural norms and values are portrayed in the play, and how an individual play might impact one’s faith journey. In addition to the talkback sessions at the theatres, co-sponsoring churches and synagogues encourage adult and youth groups to see the plays together and continue the discussions within their own faith communities."
Barksdale and Theatre IV will be presenting three plays in this year's Festival: The Grapes of Wrath by Frank Galati, Adapted from the novel by John Steinbeck (Barksdale Theatre at Willow Lawn), First Baptist of Ivy Gap by Ron Osborne (Barksdale Theatre at Hanover Tavern), and Buffalo Soldier by Bruce Craig Miller (yeah, that's me--at Theatre IV's historic Empire Theatre).
On Friday, Feb 26, 11 a.m., we will conduct in Barksdale's Willow Lawn lobby a panel discussion entitled "The Big Soul Ever'body's a Part Of" - Steinbeck's Humanist Faith. Along with a panel of area theologians, we will explore the faith perspectives embraced by Steinbeck and his characters during the Great Depression, and discuss how these perspectives relate, connect and contrast with historical and contemporary thinking and practice.
Steinbeck received the 1939 Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath, and won the 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature.
This program is free and everyone is welcome. Following the discussion, there will be a build-your-own sandwich buffet and fellowship time. A free-will offering of $5 for lunch is suggested but not required. In case of inclement weather, you can call our box office at 282-2620 for information.
During the next few weeks, I'll be posting personal ruminations about the Acts of Faith Festival, which I think is a very impressive project. I hope you'll stop back by and join in the discussion.
--Posted by Bruce Miller