LIMA — Cornerstone Harvest Church has been doing an Easter play for many years, but this is the first year that two teenage girls have written it and had a hand in the editing, casting and directing.
“Every year our pastor focuses on a theme,” said the Rev. Sherri Roberts, associate pastor and wife of senior pastor, the Rev. David Roberts. “This year’s theme was “year of the youth.” We thought it would be cool to see if teens could write the play this year, and that is right in line with this year’s vision.”
The girls who wrote it, 17-year-old Shawnee high school junior Asher Roberts, daughter of David and Sherri Roberts, and 17-year-old Elida high school senior Adrienne Harmon, said that it did not take long to come up with the idea for the play, titled “Good Life.”
“It took a couple weeks,” said Asher Roberts. “We did a lot of praying and hearing from the Lord.”
Harmon added, “Having them (pastors) speaking the vision — that led us in the direction of the main idea.”
The girls began work in early November and finished writing the play in early January. “It was pretty easy to come up with the lines,” said Asher Roberts. “We were taught well and that helped everything to flow.”
The play deviates from Cornerstone Harvest Church’s usual production in that it is set in modern times instead of Biblical times. The play focuses on several different people who are all part of a small group at a church.
There are two teenage girls, a young single woman, an older woman, a couple and a troubled young man. Each of the characters runs into difficulties in a variety of areas of life including relationships, finances and health that they must work through.
“A big part of the play that makes it relevant is that it is modern,” said Sherri Roberts. “It shows what the Bible talks about and how it applies. … It’s important for people to know that to be a Christian, everything doesn’t have to be perfect. We all have problems and the Bible gives practical ways to address those things.”
In the play, the characters are reading through John 14 in the Bible, so the play flips from modern times to the Biblical story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, tying the two together.
“We intermixed the Bible and real life,” said Asher Roberts. “We teach off the Bible, but also show how that applies to every day life.”
The production also includes a lot of media, including video, sound and lighting effects. The play also features the church’s dance team and live band and includes plenty of music and singing.
Practice began in January and has been twice weekly ever since. Dale Ann Burden, the director of the play also practices with the dance team once a week.
“I put in lots of hours,” she said. “I probably work on the play a few hours every day.”
Burden not only directs, but does the choreography and also has a part in the play.
The cast is made up of 50 people, including the extras such as the townspeople. “With everyone involved,” said Burden, “the cast and everyone else, there is probably 109 people involved.”
The group has even recorded several scenes at other locations. “They did a scene at St. Rita’s the other day,” said Sherri Roberts.
For Sherri Roberts and the church staff, the hardest thing has been letting Asher Roberts and Harmon write and work on the play without a lot of advice.
“We’ve been doing this for 17 years now,” said Sherri Roberts. “We pulled back, though. The hardest part was to allow the girls to make mistakes and limit our input. There is a rawness in doing it the first time. … There was some editing that took place, but we didn’t want to edit out their perspective. That’s what is so different and special about this. They are part of the directing and were there for casting, too.”
For the girls, the challenge was the amount of time they wanted to spend on the play while also keeping up with their other commitments.
“The hard part really,” said Asher Roberts, “was not being able to give it 24/7.”
As the director, Burden’s vision for the play includes making a difference in people’s lives. “It is to just take everything — Jesus’ salvation and his healing and knowing the ‘good life,’ she said. “It’s knowing that whatever you are going through, Jesus has the answer.”
The girls’ hope is that people who see the play will be changed. “We want them to identify and see themselves,” said Asher Roberts. “We want them to have hope and inspiration — to leave changed in some way.”
Harmon added, “The biggest thing is that this play is not about being in a religion. It’s about being in a relationship. That’s what having the good life means.”
Event: “Good Life”
Where: Cornerstone Harvest Church, 2000 N. Cole St., Lima
When: 7 p.m. March 27, 29, 31
Admission is free.
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