The Jeweler's Shop Off-Broadway

This year the MasterWorks Festival Theatre Program will include performances in an Off-Broadway theatre after our final performance in Winona Lake.

Our master class instructors are falling into place. Phillip Telfer wrote, produced and directed a recent documentary called Captivated. I heard Phillip speak to the cast and crew of Indescribable, the film in which Joyce and I played the parents of nine. The documentary wasn't complete last summer, and in fact Phillip interviewed at least one crew member on set. But his talk was so spot on for many of our goals for the theatre program I'm excited that he'll be speaking to us and sharing his documentary. Captivated was featured at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, where it was runner up for best documentary and an Official Selection as a finalist for Best of Festival, which was won by Courageous.

Our first night in New York we're planning to join a Bible study made up of Broadway actors.

Because this will be our first on-the-road experience, we decided to keep things simple with our play. We'll be performing The Jeweler's Shop, written by Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II. Before he was a priest he was an actor and playwright through the Rhapsodic Theatre in Krakow, Poland, during Nazi occupation. Their focus was on simplicity of production so that the full attention could be placed on meaning and acting.

Besides simplicity, we specifically chose a lesser-known play because New Yorkers have access to popular plays with A-list actors. We wanted to choose a play that would be intriguing to audiences in both Winona Lake and New York, and we believe this play will do just that.

A photo of me from an article
on The Jeweler's Shop
I had the opportunity to perform two roles in the play in the mid-90s with the Polish Theatre Group of New York. We performed it in Michigan, Georgia (here's an article from the Augusta Chronicle: "Pope's play testifies to enduring power of love"),  Florida, including Miami.  We also performed it throughout the New York City area, including a performance at the United Nations that received a standing ovation. In fact, I can't remember a single time during our performances that it did not receive a standing ovation. Before I came on board, they'd performed it at Carnegie Hall and The Lincoln Center, and bookings were underway at Princeton University, Tokyo, Paris, Poland and in The Vatican for the Pope. Unfortunately our director died of a heart attack before those dreams were realized.
The director of our 1990s
production with
Pope John Paul II.

The play tells the story of three couples and the joy and pain of love and marriage. New York's Daily News reported on our production: "City's Polish Troupe Thrives On Pope's Play".

The play employs a very different style from plays we've produced in the past unfolding mostly in a series of monologues directed to the audience. It invites audience members into the private thoughts of the characters at various stages of life and love. This makes the play a great challenge for actors, and as we experienced, it affects audiences in a profound way. Richard Barbuto wrote of our UN performance, "...the play made me feel like I was participating in it. ...It was clearly the the objective of (the) author... to invite the audience to more than aesthetic appreciation: to artistic participation!" I just saw a play Off-Broadway that used this technique with great skill, and it was captivating.

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