Various scenes from the short play festival. Photos provided by Walk on Water Production
SINGAPORE – He meets the seven sins of gluttony, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and wrath, face to face. Only then does he realise that his lifetime has all the while been marked by transgressions.
The story of how a man confronts his conscience makes up “Seven Sins”, one of 20 plays staged during the Catholic Short Play Festival on Aug 15-16 at Raffles Hotel Jubilee Hall. The initiative was spearheaded by Walk on Water Productions, a community of young adults dedicated to evangelisation through theatre and Catholic-themed plays.
While each play was just 10 minutes long, the impact was clearly felt by the audience.
Jun Li, for instance, said “Seven Sins” made her more conscious of the small actions in daily life that could make a big difference in God’s eyes. “It dawned on me that we’re sinning more than usual. We need to scrutinise our daily actions so as not so suffer the repercussions of sin in our afterlife,” she said.
That’s the kind of self-reflection that Geraldine Wee, artistic director of Walk on Water Productions, is aiming for.
She told CatholicNews that Walk on Water Productions believes in telling “real stories close to the hearts of people”.
“We hope that the people [participants] would be enriched through the process and the audience too.”
Since 2005, Walk on Water Productions has been using drama as a means of evagelisation at various individual parish, youth events, and at diocese level drama workshops and stage productions like “The Jeweler’s Shop” written by the late Pope John Paul II.
The festival is the culmination of the group’s efforts in broadening its reach within the local Catholic community by bringing original Catholic-themed plays to a wider audience at one go.
Over 1,000 tickets were sold for four shows. The entire festival raised $2,800 in donations for Caritas Singapore.
The plays were based on the Gospel passage of John 10:10 where “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so they have life and have it to the full”.
Ms Wee said the event was to encourage more people “to use drama to share faith stories, [to] write our own parables relevant to our times”.
The idea for the festival began in November 2009. By April, the project gathered steam as like-minded people in groups or as individuals joined the project as actors, writers, directors or stage and technical crew.
Scripts were submitted from parishes, schools and individuals. Plays were shortlisted and given to a director heading a small team to work on.
Rachelyn Gordon, a first time actress who had a role in a play titled “Yesterday”, said the experience taught her to “believe, trust in God, and pray”.
First-time playwright, Alan Johnson, who is from Walk on Water Productions, hopes to bring across the message that “the best way to live life abundantly is to start afresh”.
Raja Veerendiran, from St. Joseph’s Institution Drama Club, wrote, acted and co-directed “Seven Sins”. An atheist, he said that he had woven in the religious aspect into his writing due to the Catholic theme of the play.
Initially, he said, he did not identify so much with the lines and was simply going through the motions during rehearsals. But post-participation, Mr Veerendiran said he felt “somewhat less resistant to religion”, with the idea of temptation becoming more real than ever to him.
Esther Fang, a member of the audience, described the festival as “fantastic, with a great atmosphere and a level of high creativity”. She said that the plays spoke to her about the message that love transforms.
Ms Wee hopes that Catholics will use drama more often as a means to evangelise and effect change even in their own parishes.
“Drama when used properly will not be preachy. The great majority of the plays were not preachy. It is our great hope that the plays are more like parables. We hope to conduct workshops for those using drama to better understand its use,” Ms Wee said.
Ms Wee also expressed hope for more support amongst the priests and congregation for similar projects in the future.
By Erick Lirios and Darren Boon