First Hand Theatrical's INTERRUPTING THE SERMON Runs Now thru 9/7 at the Empire Black Box
"Interrupting the Sermon," a gentle story-play about the evolution of a theologically conservative kid from the Midwest into an intellectually progressive religious thinker over the course of a 50-year career as a minister and educator, will be performed today, Sept. 4, through the 7th, 2014 at the Empire Black Box in Providence. The public is warmly invited to these free performances.
"Interrupting the Sermon" is the first fully mounted production of First Hand Theatrical, a company Kevin Olson founded to present original theater productions based mainly on primary source material drawn from diverse cultural, personal and social histories.
The play is directed by Olson and chronicles the professional life of his late father, Dr. Wayne C. Olson. Kevin Olson was moved to create the play after hearing his father, then in retirement in rural Vermont, deliver a deeply moving sermon in 2010 as a guest preacher titled, "My Bible: Then and Now." Dr. Olson at the same time was writing a collection of stories about his years as a pastor and college professor.
Kevin Olson searched through his father's memoir vignettes and selected stories that best illuminated the words of the sermon that anchor the play.
- A decision Dr. Olson later regretted to back out of delivering the invocation at a 1961 anti-nuclear rally in Woodstock, N.Y., the small town where he led his first church.
- Getting fired from a church in Passaic, N.J., after inviting teenagers in the congregation to help him deliver a sermon.
- Baptizing a young man in Indiana who was about to die of AIDS during the early years of the epidemic.
"I created the play using words that are primarily his. The sermon and the stories intersect thematically in ways that illustrate my father's spiritual journey over 50 years of preaching and teaching. The play is structured like a church service and also includes some of my Dad's poetry as well as original music." Kevin Olson said.
"Interrupting the Sermon" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept 4; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept 5; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept 6; and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 7 at AS220's 95 Empire Black Box, 95 Empire St., Providence. Admission is free. Call 401-237-0684 for reservations or more information, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ABOUT KEVIN OLSON - Kevin Olson lives in Cranston, R.I. and serves as adjunct faculty at the University of Rhode Island, Community College of Rhode Island and New England Institute of Technology, teaching courses in theater, film and communication. He holds an M.F.A, in theater directing from the University of Minnesota and a B.S. in Speech and Theatre from SUNY Oneonta. He has directed productions with Actors' Theater of St. Paul, Park Square Theater, University of Minnesota Theatre, Hope College Theatre, The Minnesota Jewish Theater Company, Mask and Hammer, The Lark Theatre and Artists' Exchange in Cranston.
ABOUT THE COMPANY - Cast members are Don Therrien of Lincoln, R.I.; Mary-E Godfrey of Newport, R.I. and Justin Paige of Cranston, R.I.. Original music is by Stephen Pixley of Westford, MA. Lights are designed by Greg Mancusi-Ungaro of Marblehead, MA. Vanessa Blanchette of Attleboro, MA is the Assistant Director and Stage Manager. First Hand Theatrical later plans to stage "This Is My Story: Mayses 1938-1948," a play created by Olson focusing on lesser known experiences affecting Jews during World War II and the Holocaust.