By Nikki Velarde, The Belton Journal
Tuesday evening, a story of redemption and forgiveness was performed at First Baptist Church by students from Providence Prep School.
First through twelfth grade students have been studying antiquity in both their history and literature courses. Drama Teacher Krista Eshbaugh envisioned a 2015 Spring Play based on a story from the Old Testament. However, they were not able to find a script that they felt best suited their needs.
A few months after teaching The Odyssey, Providence Prep Headmaster Bret Billman was struck by how differently Odysseus and Joseph from the book of Genesis responded to injustice.
“Certainly both suffer,” said Billman, but while “Odysseus’ vengeance is comprehensive, Joseph grants forgiveness and hospitality.”
Thus the endeavor of writing and choreographing their own play began.
The story of Joseph has been made more modern by being set on a ranch in Texas in the 1920s.
“The events of this story follow the accounts of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who are alluded to in the opening song,” explained Billman. “In this interpretation, the biblical family has immigrated from Ireland to settle in Texas, mirroring the settling in Canaan in Genesis, so the bluegrass music of the play is based on traditional Irish and Gaelic tunes.”
“Placing the story in an unusual setting can help us understand the original text in a new way,” continued Billman. “By setting the story of Joseph on a Texas ranch, we make a familiar story unfamiliar with the hope that we enhance the perception of the familiar.”
The students in the hour and a half play made an exceptional performance with seven songs and concluding with a standing ovation from the audience.
“It was immensely enjoyable to work on the project with (the students),” said Billman. “They are consistently hardworking, creative and positive.”
Headmaster Billman also gave a very special thank you to Drama Teacher Krista Eshbaugh “who oversaw this production that ended up being far more ambitious than either of us intended,” said Billman.
He is very grateful and for all the help and support in making the production a reality and has hopes that the audience caught a glimpse “of the joy that we have had in preparing for this performance.”