Local homeschool students to perform in “Pilgrim’s Progress”

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, December 9, 2023

For the past two years, the Academy of Arts has partnered with local homeschool students from Bainbridge and Thomasville to present the community with Bible-based productions. The ministry is located in Taylors, SC, sending teams of young people across the United States to help students present a Christ-focused play to their community within a week.

The students begin memorizing their parts a few months in advance, preparing for an intense week of rehearsals and setup. Once the week starts, the students are trained to fully mount a play, both on and backstage. They construct the sets, assemble the light and sound fixtures, and fit and tailor costumes. 

The ministry focuses on choosing Christ-centered stories, whose message impacts the lives of the viewers and the students performing. This year, they are performing the Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan’s classic novel from 1684. 

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“The Pilgrim’s Progress is a Christian allegory,” explained Jack Connell, who plays the title role of Pilgrim. “The story follows a man named Pilgrim who has left his old town called the City of Destruction. He embarks on a journey to the Celestial City, symbolizing our Christian walk of faith.”

The story is not subtle about its message, with characters’ names reflecting their strengths and weaknesses to present a straightforward allegory. It is a challenge to both the audience and the teenagers portraying the roles. 

“I’m really hoping that this will encourage Christians,” explained Lili Jacobs, playing the role of Hopeful. “Watching everything that Pilgrim goes through, it can be a comfort to know that we’re not the only ones that go through these hard situations. There are also encouraging people along the way, like Hopeful. I just want the audience to see that it’s all worth it.”

The ministry aims to present the show professionally, claiming that Christian Arts ought to strive for excellence.

“Christian movies, a lot of time, can be corny, almost making fun of Christianity,” Jacobs noted. “I feel like the Academy of Arts does theatre in a way that makes the Bible come to life.”

The show is also used to evangelize to the audience, as it presents quality entertainment for the community while giving a clear message of the Gospel.

“I think for an unbeliever I want them to watch this play and realize that there’s hope in this life,” Jacobs said. “That they can have this relationship with God. That is the message we are pushing to the forefront of their minds through this play. No matter the difficulties in life, God is with us throughout all of it.” 

The community is invited to come and enjoy the show on December 15th at 7 pm and December 16th at 2 pm in the Kirbo Center. Tickets can be bought by calling (229)-254-4641. Although the play is a wonderful opportunity for students, Connell explained that this production has a greater purpose. 

“I want to enjoy the play but also remember that the purpose is to glorify and honor God,” he said. “People should know who it’s for. It’s not for the audience. It’s not for the director. It’s not for the actors. It’s not about anyone except for the Lord, our God.”