Apr 28, 2009

Run to see Run Away Cinderella

by Emily DeFosse

Close your eyes and picture this: A broken, beat-up woman in a wedding dress. This is not an everyday image, but it is what motivated senior Matt Downey to write and direct the play “Runaway Cinderella” as he was driving though an intersection in a small Texas town.

Inspiration can come in many forms. Downey’s came after he and a group of guys interning with Teen Mania Ministries were kicked out of a church for wearing jeans and collarless shirts, and were snickered at by the church members in a grocery store a few days later.

“I was in the car going off about how frustrated I was that people don’t get that faith is what Christianity is all about,” Downey said. “I was going through an intersection when suddenly I had this mind picture of, excuse the language—a whore—a woman battered and bruised in a wedding dress running down the aisle. I slammed on the brakes, everyone in the car was terrified, and I told them I had to write a play.”

Downey said the idea for the play was tabled until he took Theater 352, Writing for Church Drama, last semester.

Under the direction of former Professor Desiree Sowards, Downey wrote the script for “Runaway Cinderella.”

“In a nutshell, it is an allegory of the gospel of John, told as a love story set in the mythical town of Haven, Texas,” Downey said.

According to Downey, the overarching theme of the play is grace versus the law. This theme is highlighted by tackling many of today’s tough social issues.

“We touch on domestic violence, homosexuality, (and) tipping the pizza guy (Downey delivers for Dominos). It is really about the conflict between the perfection-driven Christians and the people that just can’t get it right,” Downey said.
Downey tackles these issues head on without fear of offending anyone.

“One of the characters is openly gay. I’m not condoning the lifestyle, but showing the character’s brokenness and his desperate need for a touch from Christ,” Downey said. “What’s interesting is we don’t turn him straight, but he is the only character that has an actual on-stage direct encounter with God.”

A new upstart company, Transformation Theatre Company (TTC), headed by LaShonda Brown, is producing the play. TTC is a new student club that seeks to produce Christian drama while raising money for charity. Downey said that all proceeds from “Runaway Cinderella” will go to Freedom 4/24 Ministries, which works to free women and children from the sex trade in Thailand.

“The show is all about redemption and I couldn’t think of any better ministry to help out,” Downey said.

Every $24 raised will bring one more woman or child a step closer to freedom, according to Brown.

Junior Brittany Adkins plays Michelle Connor, a legalistic church member who comes to salvation through faith.

“The play is about every sinner,” Adkins said. “It is a portrayal of how the love of Christ transforms us into something beautiful when we are nothing but a dirty soot-covered Cinderella and he is waiting to sweep us off our feet.”
Senior Erica Tucker plays main character Dakota Marcus.

“She (Dakota) is me, she is you, and she is everyone who has ever run from God. She is basically the church, the Bride of Christ.”

Performances were held last week, and there will be one final performance in North Campus 1491 this Thursday (Reading Day) at 5 p.m. Tickets cost $5 dollars at the door or can be purchased after convocation on Monday for $3.


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