Old story, eternal truths

May 01, 2007|by HANNAH TUSSING

Most teens today wouldn't give up computers, cell phones or iPods to go back in time and live in the 1600s, when "modern" technology was parchment paper, quill feather pens and horse-drawn carriages.

But this week, Youth Reaching Others for Christ (Y-ROC) will present "The Pilgrim's Progress," a theatrical version of a three-century-old classic Christian novel of the same name.

"The Pilgrim's Progress" was written by John Bunyan and published in 1678. The play will be performed in 1600s-style costumes but in modern English.

"Even though this play is old, it is definitely relevant to modern teens," Beka Jenkins, 14, who plays three characters in the play. "All the temptations (the main character) faces are the same as those that teens face today. For that reason, this play sends a powerful message to everyone who sees it."


Bunyan wrote "The Pilgrim's Progress" while in prison for preaching in England without a license. The novel is an allegory, meaning that characters, places or things stand for something else.

The play follows a pilgrim, named Christian, as he journeys from the Slough of Despond toward the City of Gold. Along the way he meets some people who encourage him, such as Evangelist and Hopeful, and others, such as Mr. Worldly Wiseman and Giant Despair, who discourage him in his faith.

The story is a classic, but is it outdated for today's kids? A few practices ago, I asked members of the youth group if a play that's almost 330 years old is relevant for teens today.

"Yes, I definitely think that this 'old play' is still relevant in the lives of teens today," said Jerika Burkett, 16, who plays controlling wife Mrs. Pliable and the wicked Two Tongues. "It shows people how hard the journey can be. ... The things that the characters go through are similar to the hardships people face today."

Janice Stotler, 16, who plays the discouraging Giant Despair, Cruelty and a heavenly angel, agrees.

"This play ... is a good example of persistence, courage, strength and determination," she said.

Zachary Hawbaker, 15, plays Christian, the main character, who represents an ordinary believer. Zachary said the story of the play's protagonist is the story of every Christian.

"I think we can all relate to Christian and his struggle to be pure," he said.

Alexis Miller, 16, who plays Soul Trapper, a seductive woman, thinks there is inspiration in the play for those who look for it.

"The characters and some of the methods are a little outdated," she said, "but the moral is still relevant."

Teens will find the play interesting, said Laura Eby, 13, who plays encouraging Hopeful.

"Many of the situations in the script apply to everyday scenarios," she said.

If you go ...

WHAT: "The Pilgrim's Progress"

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 3, and Friday, May 4; 2 p.m. Saturday, May 5

WHERE: Bedington United Methodist Church, 580 Bedington Road, Martinsburg, W.Va.

COST: Free.

CONTACT: 304-274-2011

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