Playwright Carol Lynn Pearson on creating CARAVAN, part of the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions

CARAVANCARAVAN by Carol Lynn Pearson receives its world premiere as a Script-In-Hand Series reading as part of the global Parliament of the World’s Religions on Friday, October 16 at 3:45pm, bringing people of faith together to work for a more just, peaceful and sustainable world. The first Parliament of Religions was held at the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition, and was the first formal meeting of the religious East and West. In 1988 the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR) was founded to organize a centennial celebration of the original Parliament. Since 1993, four Parliaments have been held in Chicago, Cape Town, Barcelona and Melbourne. The 2015 Parliament is here in Salt Lake City October 16-19, 2015.

There’s a great big Family Quarrel going on today. Worldwide. Impossible to miss. Many of the children of Father Abraham and the two mothers, Sariah and Hagar, are battling it out. Some of the adherents of these three great world religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—clearly have forgotten the wonderful heritage that unites us and instead focus on differences, on ancient hatreds, on property rights, and even ownership of God. Wars seems not to solve it. Negotiations have yet to bring peace.

An old Jewish says it all: “An enemy is someone whose story you do not know.”

Long ago I memorized words by a devotee of drama that might surprise you, Brigham Young: “If I were placed on a cannibal island and given the task of civilizing its people, I would straightway build a theatre for the purpose.” And he did build a theatre—the fabulous and famous Salt Lake Theatre. Story is magic. And theatre is magic. Put them together and you have a double whammy of illumination.

Plan-B Theatre creates that kind of magic all the time. I got to participate in an amazing way in 2006 when Plan-B premiered my play FACING EAST, the story of an upstanding Mormon couple dealing with the suicide of their gay son. We saw families healed, even lives saved. Story and theatre can do that.

Carol Lynn PearsonA few years ago it occurred to me—all these brothers and sisters of mine, Jewish, Christian, Muslim—what if these “enemies” knew each other’s’ stories?

And so I researched and wrote the play, CARAVAN: A HAPPY JOURNEY THROUGH THE WISDOM TALES OF JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM. Finding these stories–rich in wisdom–convinced me that their telling could be one small part of the international effort toward understanding and peace.

Some of the stories I was delighted to find and to share are “Caravan,” a tale from Islam that brings us the profound truth that an idea is the most powerful force in the world; “It Could Be Worse,” the hilarious Jewish tale that shows us the way to gratitude; “Why the Chimes Rang,” the moving story from the Christian tradition of sacrifice that my mother read to her children every Christmas Eve; and, of course, the three charming vignettes that show each faith’s version of the Golden Rule.

And when I learned that the World Parliament of Religions was going to have their conference in Salt Lake City, I thought—what better place to introduce and showcase this play! Jerry Rapier at Plan-B thought so to. So did the Parliament.

It is my hope that every child and adult who sees this play, no matter our cultural or religious heritage, will participate in the fun, the joy and the learning that will remind us there really are no enemies; that, at heart, all of us are one.

The Script-In-Hand Series world premiere reading of CARAVAN is Friday, October 16, 2015 at 3:45pm in room 250B at the Salt Palace, featuring Tyson Baker, Anne Brings, Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, Bijan Hosseini, Michael Johnson, Tito Livas, JJ Neward, Jay Perry and Susanna Florence Risser, directed by Christy Summerhays. Click here for details

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