‘The Play’s the Thing!’ for Residents and Staff at the UCC’s Cape Albeon
For the Rev. Le Remington, a chaplain at Cape Albeon — a United Church of Christ-affiliated senior living community in southwest St. Louis, Mo. — one of the best ways to serve the residents is through the arts, and in bringing the arts to such areas as Bible study.
At a faith-based place like Cape Albeon, she says, “I quickly learned that many of the residents already knew their Bible, so I was looking for a new way to present it.”
That way became Bible Theatre, a series of plays that explore traditional Bible stories and characters, but with a twist that gives a modern interpretation to the Old and New Testament passages. For example, a play about Moses in the desert explored what Moses might have been thinking, and the kinds of conversations he might have had with Aaron.
It’s “reading between the lines, but within the integrity of the story,” as a way of bringing the stories to life, says Remington.
Each play is scripted by Remington and runs 30-40 minutes, and includes costumes and props. “I emphasize to the cast that they should not ad lib,” she says, “because there’s always a certain theological message I’m trying to get across.”
The cast of each show is made up of Cape Albeon employees, who have really come through, she says, including Cape Albeon Executive Director Carol DiSanza.
“In our most recent play, Carol portrayed Barbara Walters [complete with accent] interviewing Noah and Moses,” says Remington with a laugh. “It was great fun!”
The residents love the quarterly plays, she adds, and “Barbara Walters Brings Forward in Time Noah, Moses, and Queen Esther for an Interview” was one of the most successful to date. The employees enjoy themselves as well.
Cape Albeon’s residency counselor, Kalie Henthorn, was one of the thespians in the show, portraying Queen Esther. “This was my first play,” she says, “and I greatly enjoyed it. I get very nervous in front of a lot of people, but it was a comfortable setting.”
Currently, Remington is working on Bible Theatre’s next offering, about a man waiting on a park bench for the bus to take him to work. His wife is leaving, his children are running afoul of the law, and he shouts, “Send me an answer, Lord!” In response, God sends Abraham and Peter to talk to him. Remington says it will be another Bible story with a contemporary message.
“Le writes, directs, does the costumes and props, and narrates the plays,” says Margaret Robison, Cape Albeon’s recreational director. “She is a remarkable person with so many talents.”
Remington’s other duties at Cape Albeon include two worship services a week, hospital visits, and all of the other traditional chaplain duties. She also teaches a world religion class every other month, where residents study other religions and then take a field trip to learn more. For example, when the class studied Buddhism, it visited a Buddhist temple. For a class on Judaism, the field trips included St. Louis’ Holocaust Museum and a discussion with a local rabbi.
So why does Remington take the extra time that creating and directing the Bible Theatre plays requires?
“I’ve loved writing plays since I was in grade school,” she says. “Bible Theatre is a way to bring the Bible to life, full of color and motion: a way to spur people to learn more.”
And just one of many ways that Cape Albeon — named for the UCC motto, “That they may all be one” — shows that God is, indeed, still speaking.
Cape Albeon is a not-for-profit, faith-based Life Plan Retirement Community for active seniors, offering a full spectrum of health services. The campus includes retirement cottages and apartments, assisted living apartments, and personal care and memory care services for adults 55 and older. According to its website, Cape Albeon’s mission is to empower elders and their caregivers through choices and options that foster a vital life in the tradition of the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries of the United Church of Christ.
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