Church theater group aims to uplift the whole person

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Helena stomps across stage in disgust after her former best friend Hermia accuses her of stealing her intended.

“O, when she’s angry, she is keen and shrewd! She was a vixen when she went to school; And though she be but little, she is fierce,” said 13–year–old Camilah Pope, who plays Helena.

Both Pope and Ashley Shaffer, who plays Hermia, are cast members of Cahaba Valley Church’s newly-formed Cahaba Valley Players.

The players plan to present Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” May 15 and 16 at the church.

Actors hail from North Shelby, as well as Alabaster, Birmingham and Homewood. Director Laura Coulter said the church reached beyond itself to bring actors with different experiences together.

“There’s nothing more meaningful than making a connection with someone you thought you had nothing in common with,” Coulter said.

While some of the actors sit in the church’s pews each Sunday, not all are church members.

“The church has really taken a whole person approach with our kids,” Coulter said. “They realize there is more to these kids than what goes on within church walls. It’s impossible to grow spiritually if another part of your life is completely out of whack.”

She said many of the kids found their niche with acting when they couldn’t find it elsewhere. Jonathon Adams, who plays Lysander, said he was drawn to theater in eigth–grade.

“It’s a great way to express myself,” Adams said. “I was never that great at sports, but theater was where I found my niche.”

Pope, 13, said she’s learned a lot over the past seven months of rehearsals.

“In theater, you get to meet such different people, and portray such different people,” said Pope. “You learn about their emotions and how they deal with life.”

The cast includes kids from 6-16; some have never acted and some have acted since age 5. All of them have given up every Saturday but two since October to rehearse.

Shaffer said people will be entertained by the youthfulness of the performances.

“I think it would be exciting for them to see teenagers and kids acting out Shakespeare with words most adults don’t even know,” Shaffer said.

Coulter said she’s been excited to see how the kids have grown. She said, “If you can master Shakespeare, you can master anything.”

Admission to the play will be $5 each night.