A group of actors will interpret the events of Easter during live theater performances on March 23-24.
The actors are members of Project Promise, a program of MDC Goldenrod. Project Promise provides spiritual and social support for people with disabilities.
Grace Swartzendruber is the play’s director.
“Our actors are especially good at telling the story of Easter,” said Swartzendruber, “because they bring both strong emotions and fresh insight to their performance.”
Most of the actors in the play face mental challenges. Some face additional physical problems.
“Our actors have experienced both the heartbreak of Good Friday and the triumph of Easter morning,” Swartzendruber said.
The presentation this month will mark the eighth year that the actors have performed their play about Easter. Swartzendruber said that this year’s production will add a new scene between Peter and Jesus.
Ms. Swartzendruber graduated from Goshen College with a theater major. She currently serves as coordinator for Project Promise.
“I enjoy collaborating with the actors from Project Promise,” Swartzendruber said. “Other actors I’ve worked with often face barriers to honest emotion. Our actors tend to have more direct access to their emotions.”
“For example, even during rehearsals, the actors who play Jesus’ followers are in tears as they witness the cruelty of the rulers and soldiers.”
Other people helping with the production include Mary Janis, co-director; Mark Dilworth, producer; Rex and Marcie Terbush and Nathan Swartzendruber, music; Dan Steiner, bell choir; Evan Hoover, committee chair; and Tim Blaum, publicity.
The actors will perform The Easter Play at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 24. Both performances will be in the chapel at Bethany Christian Schools, 2904 S. Main St. (US 15) in Goshen. There is no cost for admission. Free will offerings will be accepted.
Typically, the Project Promise actors perform for a filled auditorium.
“One reason the play is so popular,” said Swartzendruber, “is that it changes the way we feel and think about Easter. To see, for example, a disciple who uses a walker reminds us that the Easter events happened to real human beings who were every bit as vulnerable as we are.”
Project Promise is a program of MDC Goldenrod in Goshen. MDC Goldenrod is a ministry to people with disabilities that is sponsored by thirty area congregations. MDC Goldenrod provides homes, daily living assistance, skills training and respite care.
“Project Promise is one of only a few ministries that involve people from a wide variety of religious backgrounds,” concludes Swartzendruber. “People from the Amish church work side by side with Mennonites, Methodists, Lutherans and people from community churches.”