When asked a few years ago by an inmate working in the library about the possibility of holding theater classes, Garner Correctional Institution Librarian Mark Aldrich latched onto the idea and ran with it....Read Full Article
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RIDGEFIELD — St Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Ridgefield will hold just one morning service― at 10 ―on Sunday, December 24, versus the usual two.
“This year December 24 is both the Fourth Sunday in Advent and Christmas Eve,” said the Rev Whitney Altopp, rector of St Stephen’s. “To make sure it doesn’t get short shrift, we are making the morning’s celebration of Advent 4 very special. The service will present a one-act play, Everlasting Light, written for us and for our space by Elizabeth Young, a playwright who lives in Newtown.”
Ms Young will also be directing the special performance.
Services celebrating Christmas Eve will take place at 4, 8 and 10:30.
Based on the book Walking Backward to Christmas by Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford in England, Everlasting Light tells the Christmas story through the eyes of figures relevant to the birth of Jesus. These include the three wise men, King Herod, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, and earlier figures, Isaiah and Moses, as well as imagined characters like Martha, the innkeeper’s wife.
“The play’s title refers to the light of Christ’s birth, which could not be overcome by darkness,” said Ms Young.
The intergenerational cast ranges in age from 14 to 80, and young children will participate as angels. The congregation’s involvement includes hymn singing and prayers.
The play follows the wise men as they make their journey to the stable in Bethlehem. Throughout, their conversation will introduce the various characters. Their dialogue, at times humorous and earthy, will also show them vacillating between faith and doubt.
“I wanted to humanize the characters, make them resonant,” said Ms Young. “For instance, Moses doesn’t understand why God chose him to lead the Jews out of Egypt, and Mary is full of youthful energy and love.”
Ms Young, active in local theater as actress and playwright, has written a number of plays that have been produced locally and one which was performed at HBO Studios in Manhattan. She co-directs a theater program for inmates at Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown and directs Theatre Arts & Opportunities Foundation, Inc, a nonprofit that creates theater programs for correctional facilities throughout Connecticut as well as for at-risk children and released inmates. She is also the theater reviewer for The Newtown Bee.
St Stephen’s Episcopal Church, at 351 Main Street (Route 35), can be reached for additional information by calling 203-438-3789.