25th October 2017

In celebration of the 500 years since the commencement of the Protestant Reformation, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has seen a number of events, special services and programmes to commemorate this significant event throughout the British Union Conference. But none were as unique and captivating as was performed by the Mervyn Weir directed and written play entitled 'Here I Stand'.DSC_6681

With one performance already under their belt in Cardiff two weeks ago, Saturday 21 October saw the London performance held at the Logan Hall, central London. The venue with spacious and comfortable seating in tiers, with outstanding acoustics and excellent sight lines holds up to 900 people, and provided a warm and engaging atmosphere for this sold-out production.

The story begins with activist Grace (played by Nataylia Roni) in a contemporary setting striking up support amongst tDSC_6569he crowd in her rallying call for a greater awareness of 'Black Lives Matter'. Having been challenged by one heckler that all lives matter, the scene moves to an interplay of discussion amongst those in attendance at the rally (Vade members) of those who made a significant difference in history. Citing names such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Ghandi and even Steve Jobs, the discussion led to Reformer Martin Luther.

The play moves through the significant points in Luther's life that led to him from being a monk to a German professor of theology, his protest against the Catholic Church and subsequent excommunication, where his famous speech rings true to the theme of the play.

I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.

Upon glancing at the programme, one would not feel amiss to query DSC_6821how the blend of a 16th century story surrounding Martin Luther with its medieval setting could be aligned with the contemporary stance of an upbeat a cappella quintet group called Vade. However, as the theatrical performance began one could see the symphony of music and script play balancing harmoniously, providing moments of quirkiness during the interplay of contemporary and medieval that made the production gripping.

Radu Zatreanu, who played Martin Luther was convincing in his performance depicting the severity, tension and resoluteness in Luther's many trials. Alica Saddler, who played a number of roles conveyed a positive onstage presence that ended in a powerful rendition of 'Let the Church say Amen' accompanied by Vade who provided an effective musical backdrop throughout the entire production that created the necessary transitions between scenes and significant defining moments in the script.

Mervyn Weir in his introduction piece in the programme, sums up the performance when he said, "You might be tempted to think this is an old, historical and irrelevant message but you would be mistaken… it's a DSC_6859timely reminder in this digital age that Christianity can't be limited to a virtual, vocal or visual experience, it must be lived and experienced in a real world."

The closing scene of the performance shared the powerful message in dialogue between Grace (Nataylia Roni) and Robert (Christopher Thomas Allen) for each one to take a stand just as Christ did and to not just make a difference, but be the difference.

The last performance of 'Here I Stand' will be in Birmingham, Saturday 28 October. For further details on how to obtain your tickets click here.

[Richard Daly]

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The Messenger

Empowered by the Spirit

23rd February 2018 Vol 123 Issue 04

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