Theatrical production sends message of hope

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2005

"I'm not a churchy kind of gal."

Those are the words a bitter Mary Magdalene used to describe herself as she contemplated the hushed words of a man who came to soothe her hurts and change her life. In the end, she became what she thought she could never be because of the hope and forgiveness of Christ.

That message of all-transforming love and hope was delivered late last week in a one-woman theatrical production, "Magdalene, a story of love and conversion".

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Mary McCormack, of the Altoona, Penn.- based Alabaster Productions, performed first for inmates at the STAR Community Justice Center in Franklin Furnace and then for students at St. Joseph High School and finally for the Catholic community last week as part of this year's Lenten observance.

Set in modern day with snapshots of 21st century pain as a backdrop, "Magdalene"

depicts Mary first as a child with a troubled family life, forced onto the streets at an early age. Seduced by Satan, she sinks into a life of prostitution and selfishness until she meets Jesus, a man whose message of love and hope she first dismissed as a joke.

Later, she admits life is not what she wanted it to be, but she resists Jesus' offer to transform her life.

"There is no mercy for me," she said. "I've come to far."

Jesus responds that there is hope in spite of sin.

"I didn't come for the virtuous, I came for you," Jesus tells her. "I came to give you rest."

Eventually, the love of Jesus transforms Mary Magdalene from the person who mocks the message to one who embraces it.

Maria Whaley, who teaches religious studies at St. Joseph High School, said she hoped the message of the theatrical production was one her students would never forget.

"I hope they're empowered by their faith, and that their faith would be a guiding light to all the decisions they make," Whaley said.

For St. Joseph junior Rian Unger, the play was a timeless story of sin and redemption.

"I thought is was a modern depiction of everyday events that relate to our lives today," she said.

For seventh-grader Bobbi Akers, the description of the Crucifixion was

both graphic and eye-opening.

"It was dramatic, how Jesus was crucified, how they put the nails into him and how he felt, how they had pictures of him on the cross."

Asked what message he received from the play, sophomore Cory Lewis replied "Love. Love for God, Love for all."

McCormack said she hoped those students would walk away inspired to serve God with a new passion.

"I hope the flame inside them gets turned up. That is my goal,"

McCormack said.

"It is purposefully edgy, the first part of it is obnoxious but I think it comes to a place where a lot of young people and adults are. They're bored with church. I think there is a lot of dead wood in the family of God. I'd like to inspire, wake people up."