Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jacob–Prince of God

Most of us have seen some version of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ by Andrew Lloyd Webber and been inspired by the transformations in the life of the dreamer. We nearly forget though, that the benevolent and jolly old man, Joseph’s father, had his more-than-fair share of drama as a young man too! Known as the deceiver, he tricked those around him countless times to end up in scrape after scrape after scrape. Inspiring as it is, to think that such a man would grow to father a nation, imagine the story coming to life!

‘Jacob, Prince of God’ will do just that next weekend as The Christian Arts Foundation brings the collaboration of experts Jerome L de Silva and Mary Anne David on stage with the production of a musical the kind of which has previously never been seen in Colombo.

The Christian Arts Foundation, better known as CHRAFT (, is now two years old. Ramesh Shantha brought the idea of a school of music and theatre that encouraged Christian ethics to Jerome L de Silva and Mary Anne David in 2009, and was met with total encouragement. “I had always been working with churches and Christian ministries like YFC in my forty-two years of theatre production in this country, but never in a formal way” Jerome, who will soon be celebrating his sixtieth birthday, shares, “and I’ve always wanted to”. So when as he was phasing out of his advertising work and going in to
retirement, “suddenly from the blue, Ramesh called”, he thought, “superb!”

The foundation sees the participation of very young people (their junior-most member turned six just two weeks ago) and some older people as well. “When we started, I said, the age group is five to a hundred and five” Jerome laughs. These participants belong to different church denominations, while
some of the cast and crew are in fact, from other religious backgrounds. The basic principle behind the work at CHRAFT is sharing love and having fun, a philosophy which seems to work extremely well, as enthusiasm, numbers and popularity just seems to be growing!

True to their bid to share love equally, CHRAFT currently participates in the ‘Uthurai Vasanthai’ initiative and has from its inception been conducting workshops in distant and “unfashionable” areas such as Menik Farm. Though for the last two years the organisation has been involved mainly in church-related performances, they are finally going public with this production of ‘Jacob Prince of God’.

“It’s not exactly Broadway, but it’s really big” Jerome promises. A cast of nearly forty people (minus the choir!) will take the stage at the Lionel Wendt from 21 to 23 October starting 7:30pm to portray the story of Israel’s birth. And although the plot stays true to the biblical version, “it’s more a musical
than a bible story”, according to Jerome. “It’s really very funny, and there’s lovely music!” he enthuses, promising “extravagant” lighting and some “sure to be spectacular” moments, declaring the production likely to be “the theatrical event of the year”!

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