Creative in the Community
by D. Joseph Wolfe
On March 14th, the Actors Cabaret of Eugene (ACE) hosted its first showing of ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, a musical which tells the story of a peasant girl nicknamed Ti Moune, or “little orphan.” This show is unique for ACE because it not only features a new-to-ACE director, Colleen Darnell Dietz, but it also represents a new bridge with New Hope Christian College and ACE. Four of the cast members are current New Hope students and one is an alumnus.
Many at the theater are appreciative of the new actors and singers, while the students also welcome the opportunity to sing, act, and dance on stage in a show advertised to the community of Eugene. The new partnership represents well a goal of the College: to build bridges between the school and the community of Eugene. It is also part of New Hope’s vision to share the love of Jesus through exellence in performing arts.
For those not from Eugene, the city is well known for the high amount of local theater. Multiple community theaters exist here, and it’s known for being somewhat of a hub for creative thinkers in general. ACE itself has been doing theater for over thirty-two years and has done dozens of premieres for shows, including the world premiere of BLUE’S CLUES LIVE! THE MOST SPECTACULAR PLACE from Nickelodeon.
The show itself, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, features a story within a story-style plot centering on Ti Moune, a peasant girl who saves the life of a wealthy Frenchman whose car crashes near her village, thinking that the gods spared her life for this purpose. Though not mentioned in the show, the story takes place in Haiti, reflecting the separation of wealthy Frenchmen on one side of the island and the laboring peasants on the other side.
The story takes an interesting turn when Ti Moune must make a deal with Papa Ge, the god of death. In order to save the wealthy man, Daniel, Ti Moune must place her life in the hands of the gods, unsure of what her fate will be.
Though the story has tribal paganism overtones, it definitely reflects modern issues of racial and social barriers. The story is one of sacrificial love which breaks down the barriers between two separate people groups. One can’t help but be reminded of the civil rights movement and the leaders who used non-violent protest to break down the barriers.