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Play on E.G. White to Premiere at PUC

Julie Z. Lee, February 27, 2007
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The world premiere of “Red Books: Our Search for Ellen White,” an original production by Pacific Union College faculty and students, will take place on March 3, 2007, at the new Alice Holst Theater in Stauffer Hall. “Red Books” explores the Seventh-day Adventist community’s relationship with its founder, Ellen G. White. Using excerpts from some 200 interviews with current and former Adventists, the play travels through four generations of a religion and their perspectives on White to create a riveting discussion about icons—why they are built, destroyed, forgotten and the impact on a faith community.

The show is the brainchild of Mei Ann Teo, PUC’s resident artist and San Francisco-based director. Teo, who is also a PUC alumna, was first inspired to create a play on White more than five years ago while listening to a presentation on the Shakers’ relationship to their founder. In 2006 she teamed with PUC students Eryck Chairez and Zach Dunn to collect interviews and concept a script. In the fall they cast the play, and with Chairez in the director’s seat, the team began production. As the writers compiled interviews, the actors were asked to participate in sifting through the notes by performing them as the interviewees. The organic process helped to determine which notes needed to be included in the story. As Chairez wrote additional scenes to connect the voices, the script began to take shape.

“I wanted to bring together the perspectives of Ellen G. White that would not be found openly voiced together,” said Teo in a 2007 interview with progressiveadventistism.com. “These are voices that may have been heard many a time before or never at all. In the play, they all exist together—juxtaposed in a brief space and time, as a microcosm of our community.” According to Teo, the goal is to heal the rift between the vast differences of belief about White that exist within Adventism.

Already, the project is gaining buzz in Adventist circles and shows are booking fast. The group has been invited to perform “Red Books” for a religious conference in the fall, and Teo is considering taking the play on tour.

The play is showing March 3-14 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays at 8 pm and on Sundays at 2 pm and 7 pm. Admission is free of charge; donations highly encouraged. For more information, call 707-965-7020. To reserve seats (reservations highly recommended), please e-mail redbooksEGW@gmail.com

“Red Books” is a production of PUC’s Dramatic Arts Society (DAS), which produces two to three productions a year. DAS also works in conjunction with PUC’s Napa Valley Musical Theater, which produces a musical production every two years.

The new black box theater, located on campus, was made possible by a large gift from professor emerita Alice Holst. The space will be used for multiple purposes, including classes for the drama program and possibly a viewing space for projects from the film and television program at PUC.