FOR three nights, July 27 to 29, the grounds at Methodist Girls’ School (MGS) became a theatre where the girls enacted stories from the Bible.
Each night at half-past six and again at nine, two groups of about 150 each followed either Eve or Satan on the trail of some famous (and infamous) women from the Bible.
This was MGS’s musical production for 2006. Like all other musicals held biennially, From Eve to Mary…Walking with Women was a coming together of the many talents in MGS – from the Drama Club, the String Ensemble, the Choir, the Dance Club, the Prefects, the Alumnae and practically every class in the full school.
The cast and crew comprised more than 200 students led by theatre veterans Jonathan Lim, Judy Ngo, Bang Wenfu, Chew Keng Kiat and Shah Tahir.
The 2006 musical was special as it celebrated MGS in a number of ways.
The script was written by six girls with help from St Luke and his Gospel, and from Jonathan Lim, a freelance actor, director and playwright with a wealth of training and experience in his art.
The journey through the grounds at MGS, a concept based on the mystery cycle that took root in the medieval York, England, was an experience of faith for the audience.
The medieval guilds of working men and women of York wrote and acted in religious mystery plays which took place in the city squares, made as graphic and moving as possible so that the people could appreciate the Bible.
The mystery play held at MGS was also a celebration of the learning environment that is typically MGS – serene, impassioned, dynamic.
From Eve to Mary… took the audience from the basketball courts in MGS where Eve and the Serpent retold the tale of the Forbidden Fruit. Eve invited her followers to stroll along the school corridor to the concourse to see Lot’s wife transfixed as a pillar of salt.
When they moved into the auditorium, Eve met Mary Magdalene before the audience listened to Delilah, Jezebel and Herodias tell their stories at a talk show.
Miriam was there too; together with the Red Sea Girls, she sang her song of triumph as the audience prepared to move to heaven, to meet the angel Gabriel whose wings spanned the width of the hall.
The journey with Eve continued through the hall, down the staircase to the depths of hell, and back to earth again when the audience met Jesus as He struggled on the road to Golgotha.
This was the MGS Bamboo Courtyard, where little girls normally play and interact during recess.
For three nights in July, it became the territory of the Roman soldiers who inflicted pain on one dearly loved by all.
Meanwhile, Satan took the other group on another route to tell his story about the women from the Bible. The two groups met at the Bamboo Courtyard to witness the death and resurrection of Jesus, who later appeared at the amphitheatre where the entire cast and all the musicians sang praise to the Lord.
The journey with Eve (and with Satan) took the audience from one point of the school to another, and was a journey of discovery for many.
It engaged the audience in an experience possible only in history, and it enlightened and entertained where book or television or conventional theatre would not.