By Joel Hall
For the fourth year in a row, Living Faith Tabernacle of Forest Park will host a one-night performance of an original gospel play by local playwright, Annetta T. Swift.
On Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m., the church's Fresh Manna Drama Team will perform "Dawn of a New Day" at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center, located at 2530 Mt. Zion Road, in Jonesboro.
Rev. Mike Thomas, associate pastor and youth pastor of Living Faith Tabernacle, said the annual play is one of the church's largest community outreach events, drawing approximately 1,200 audience members last year. He said the play often provides a way to minister to youths and adults, who normally don't make it to church.
"Our vision at the church is to reach the community, one soul at a time, and Fresh Manna is part of that," Thomas said. "Some people won't come to church, but they wouldn't mind seeing a play in a theatrical setting. Sometimes, the word is a little too deep for some," he said. "They are able to identify [with it] better if they can visually see it."
According to Swift, who leads the church's Fresh Manna Drama Team, this year's play, "Dawn of a New Day," is a serious drama focusing on the life of "Dawn," played by Antrice McGuire.
Dawn, Swift said, is a mid-40s career woman who has achieved success in the business world, but whose personal relationships are crumbling. After her company is forced to downsize, due to the economy, and she is forced to work at home, the realities of Dawn's home life begin to catch up with her.
"She's so busy with life that she misses pertinent details of her home life," Swift said. "There is possible infidelity on her husband's part. Her son has baby-mama drama ... he has four different children with four different women," she continued.
"Her daughter has substance-abuse issues. She's [Dawn is] forced to look at her situation, and is presented with the choice of taking responsibility and confronting it, or running away."
Swift said the play is filled with twists and turns and a surprise ending that audience members "will not expect." She said that while the play draws heavily on talent from within the church, it will also feature several, local, aspiring actors: "Jerrell," Dawn's husband is played by Tut Richards; Dawn's son, "Ryan," is played by Markus Allen; Dawn's daughter, "Arielle," is played by Jasmine Goodridge; Dawn's sisters, "Rose" and "Christine," are played by Cheryl Restel and April Fletcher, respectively; Dawn's best friend, "Janet," is played by Maria Benns; and Dawn's childhood friend, "Ray Ray," is played by Joshua Jackson.
Swift said the moral of the play is that God can provide a way out, even when the path is unclear.
"Dawn's situation doesn't change, but her perspective changes, and that allows her to better cope with it," said Swift.
"The moral of the story is that even though you don't have all the answers, God has a plan for us, and strategically orders our footsteps. If we love him, He will give us a way out."
Tickets for the play are $10 in advance, and $15 at the door. Call (404) 361-0812, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information.