Wrestling with temptation -- in puppetry, song and story


BRATTLEBORO -- Winged Productions presents "Three in the Wilderness," a mystery play based on the gospel stories of the temptations of Christ in the wilderness, on Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday at 3 and 7 p.m., at at St. Michael's Episcopal Church at the corner of Putney Road and Bradley Avenue.

"Three in the Wilderness" takes its inspiration from the mystery plays professional guilds staged in the Middle Ages. Telling scripture stories in dramatic and creative fashion, mystery plays proved very popular -- so popular they were eventually banned by the Protestant Church.

The idea of mystery plays became the jumping off point for "Three in the Wilderness," a production for adults and children and people of all faiths and beliefs that combines puppets designed and built by Finn Campman, original music by Paul Dedell and traditional songs performed by Tony Barrand, Zara Bode, Stefan Amidon, Kathy Andrew and Dedell.

Formed this year by Susan and Paul Dedell, Winged Productions aims to present creative events that explore the sacred. Retelling and examining the temptation stories was a perfect fit.

"What are the three temptations? What are the temptations saying to us? We wanted to be able to imagine the humanness of these temptations," Paul Dedell said. "The temptations offer us a chance of thinking about human choice."

In essence, while the temptations stories represent a significant dance between Christ and the Devil, they offer a chance for us to ruminate on our own, individual dances with darkness.

To tell the story, Campman created tabletop puppets representing Christ and Lucifer and added a third character -- a Fool who finds himself both uncertain and inspired as he witnesses the supernatural exchanges between Christ and the Tempter.

To complement the story told with puppets, "Three in the Wilderness" adds music. Some of it is instrumental music composed by Dedell for the temptation sequences and performed by Kathy Andrew on violin, Dedell on guitar, Stefan Amidon on drums and Zara Bode on other instruments.

Other music includes traditional English and Americana songs that deal with issues of temptation, choice and weakness. Those songs will be performed by Barrand, Bode, Amidon and Dedell. Puppet performers include Campman, Kirk Murphy and Helen Schmidt.

"Three in the Wilderness" is suitable for people of all faiths and no faith, anyone who wants to enjoy and be engaged by a creative exploration of this notion of human choice.

Admission is by suggested donation of $8-10. For more information, visit stmichaelsvermont.org/winged-productions.


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