Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Aladdin and his crew hit the sticks in Derbyshire!

"Just a few lines to say a MASSIVE "Thank You Very Much" for the 
BRILLIANT panto last night.
Everyone REALLY enjoyed it and we are full of admiration for your 
excellent and talented actors. How hard they worked with setting up, 
acting, singing, dancing and all the costume changes.
Please give our grateful thanks to everyone involved. 
How lovely it was to have a happy, family production with no swearing
and dreadful innuendos.
WELL DONE!!" – Linda, Community Centre Member



Cast of Aladdin and the Meanie Genie with fans
(L-R) Catherine Lakenby, Kirsteen Riddell, Rowen Cameron, Lee Farrell, James McCready
That's quite a review! Me? I'm relieved and delighted that the audience at my local community centre seemed to enjoy Act One Production's latest family panto: "Aladdin and the Meanie Genie".

Relieved? Well, as the writer of the original script, I do feel partly responsible for the end result. It's also nice to get some credit - though truth be known, Jule (our artistic director) penned a few gems herself before including our technical director and tour manager Nathan Turtle in the process. Jule has to keep on the right side of Nathan. He's the one who creates the magical special effects.  

In fact, as soon as the script was completed in March 2014, Nathan began working on the sound, lighting, scenery, music…..the lot! It's one thing for airy-fairy writers and imaginative directors to come up with gigglesome gags, bits of business and  mind-boggling stunts, but Nathan’s the person who makes things WORK! Fortunately, he's a Maestro, totally dedicated to his task, despite being an entertainer in his own right. Poor chap hadn't had any time off since March and was looking forward to just a couple of days before it all kicks in again for 2015! 

Jule's no slouch either. As a theatre director she is certainly inventive, wildly creative and occasionally off-the-wall. The rest of us merely run UP it - especially when she insists on not just one but THREE elephants, a talking Dandelion,  and the now ubiquitous donkey! Arrrgggghhhhh! Yet somehow, it all comes together.

Another gift Jule possesses - talent-spotting. Auditions can be fraught with actors' schedules and tricky travelling arrangements (after a disastrous 'virtually' casting session last year, Skype is no longer an option except in extreme circumstances). Yet, every year, Jule finds just the right people....usually young, enthusiastic and brimming with bravado. Well, they have to be brave with some of the stunts they’re given to do! They also have to be in-tune with Jule's vision, and each actor is encouraged to bring their own ideas to the pot, so every production is a joint venture.

The cast and crew (i.e. Nathan) for Aladdin were amazing. (I'm using the past tense as, by the time this blog appears, they'll have completed the tour and gone their separate ways....hopefully towards other excellent roles in the future). To my mind, panto is perfect training for actors, demanding physical skills, mental dexterity, the ability to improvise and perfect timing. The five professionals chosen for Aladdin were excellent singers too.

Aladdin is the first panto to be stage in my own neighbourhood....and Derbyshire folk are not the easiest audiences to please. Fortunately, after a brief jollying-along by Nathan, my fellow citizens and their tots got into the swing of things, the only glitch being when the Dame stuck a sink-plunger on a man's head. Although the guy himself didn’t seem to mind, his protective pre-school daughter objected in NOOOO uncertain terms! 

For me, the highlight was a marionette scene when Ebanazer pulled invisible strings to make the beautiful Princess Jasmine dance! Inspired!

My young friend Tyra (aged 10) and her grandma were equally impressed, especially on learning that the amazing flow of characters were played by just FIVE people - a technical feat in itself!

And everybody clapped! Phew! Thanks to Nathan's wizardry and the cast's terrific performances, I can really hold my head up in the village!

Thank you Act One Productions. I'm SOOOOO proud of you!

Contact: Jule Watson at Act One Productions


Artistic Director: Jule Watson
Technical & Tour Director: Nathan Turtle
Cast: James McCready, Kirsteen Riddell, Rowen Cameron, Lee Farrell, Catherine Lakenby



Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Why the Pope? Is Christendom's clergy scriptural?

       “Pope Francis is a humble man who believes he is infallible” – Professor Garry Wills
      Soon after the present Pontiff was elected, religious writer Professor Garry Wills claimed on BBC Radio 4 that there’s no scriptural basis for the Pope - or, for that matter, any Christian clergy.
       He should know what he’s talking about. As a Roman Catholic, educated by Jesuits, Garry once considered the priesthood himself, but settled instead for academia, eventually becoming Emeritus Professor of History at Northwestern University.  His controversial new book “Why Priests? A Failed Tradition” questions the supposed line of descent from the Apostle Peter whom many Catholics claim was the first Pope, quoting Matthew 16:18 as their basis:  “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church”.
       According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary, however, the term used for ‘a mass of rock’ is the Greek word ‘Pe’tra’ (feminine gender) which denotes a mass of rock rather than ‘Pe’tros(masculine gender) meaning a detached stone or boulder that can be thrown or easily removed:  “Here  the distinction between Petra, concerning the Lord Himself, and Pe'tros, the Apostle, is clear.”
       Another Bible commentator writes, “That the apostles did not understand Jesus’ statement to signify Peter was the rock-mass is evident from the fact that they later disputed about who seemed to be the greatest amongst them. (Mark 9:33-35) There would have been no basis for such disputing had Peter been given the primacy as the rock-mass on which the congregation was to be built.
       ‘The scriptures clearly show that as foundation stones, all the apostles are equal. All of them, including Peter, rest upon Christ Jesus as the foundation cornerstone. (Eph 2:19-22; Re 21:2, 9-14) Peter himself identified the rock-mass (pe’tra) on which the congregation is built as being Christ Jesus.” (1 Pe 2:4-8)
       Having originally believed Peter to be the ‘rock-mass, even ‘Saint’ Augustine (354-430 CE) later changed his view, saying: “The rock is not so named from Peter, but Peter from the rock (non enim a Petro petra, sed Petrus a petra), even as Christ is not so called after the Christian after Christ.  For the reason why the Lord says, ‘On this rock I will build my church,’ is that Peter had said: ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ On this rock which thou hast confessed, says he, I will build my church. For Christ was the rock (petra enim erat Christus), upon which also Peter himself was built; for other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” – Lange’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures (Mt 16:18 ftn, p.296) Translated and edited by P. Schaff, 1976.
       A further line of argument against a clergy class, mentioned by Prof Wills, is that by giving his life ‘once for all time’ as the ultimate sacrifice (He 9:11-14) Jesus became the sole mediator between God and humans, abolishing the need for a priesthood to offer sacrifices for the people on a regular basis.
       But perhaps one of the most telling comments is by Jesus himself who, in Mt 23:6-10, puts himself at odds with many religious leaders, ancient and modern:
       “Do not call anyone your father on earth, for one is your Father, the Heavenly One. Neither be called ’leaders,’ for your Leader is one, the Christ.” 


http://www.amazon.co.uk/Why-Priests-A-Failed-Tradition/dp/0670024872 

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Is Catholic vow of celibacy scriptural?

       
       Australian Catholic Church claims priests’ vow of celibacy may be linked to child abuse.
       26 Italian women in loving relationships with Catholic priests urge Pope Francis to relax the celibacy rule.

       No doubt about it, the papal view of celibacy has caused misery for many people over hundreds of years. But is it scriptural? Does God really demand that priests (and nuns) forego the natural joys of marriage and parenthood? A simple view of the Bible and early Christian teaching will answer these questions: 
     
Doctrine from devils?

       According to the New Jerusalem Bible: “The Spirit has explicitly said that during the last times some will desert the faith and pay attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines that come from devils, seduced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are branded as though with a red-hot iron: they forbid marriage and prohibit foods which God created to be accepted with thanksgiving by all who believe and who know the truth.” (1Timothy 4:1-3)

Doctrine from Jesus?
       
       Even Pope Paul VI, a pontiff not generally noted for liberal thinking, admitted in his encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus (Priestly Celibacy, 1967) that “the New Testament which preserves the teaching of Christ and the Apostles….does not openly demand celibacy of sacred ministers…..Jesus Himself did not make it a prerequisite in His choice of the Twelve, nor did the Apostles for those who presided over the first Christian communities.” – The Papal Encyclicals 1958-1981 (Falls Church, Va.; 1981), p.204.

Doctrine from Peter and apostles?

       Considering that Simon Peter** was married (Mark 1:29-31) as were the rest of the apostles along with Jesus’ fleshly brothers and first century ‘bishops’ (1Corinthians 9:5; 1 Timothy 3:2), then the Catholic church has no real basis for insisting that priests should be celibate, a doctrine that must surely be partly responsible for the shocking incidence of child abuse by various clergy.

The Apostle Peter, thought by Catholics to be the first Pope, was a married man
Doctrine from Paul?

       Obviously, Christian teaching has never endorsed celibacy except when freely espoused by its adherents. The apostle Paul, while outlining the benefits of singleness, also advised it was “better to marry than to burn.” (1 Corinthians 7:9) The ultimate authority, of course, was Jesus Christ who described singleness as a ‘gift’ for which “not all men can make room.” (Matthew 19:11)
       “Celibacy was commonly practiced before the Christian era by Buddhist priests and monks, and even earlier by the higher orders of the Babylonian priesthood” – The Two Babylons by A. Hislop. P.219
*See also:




**Peter was also known as Cephas – (John 1:42)