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Bethel College winter drama is a parable from a poem

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- A play that was first a poem is on stage at Bethel College this weekend, March 9-11. The Conference of the Birds, a play based on the poem by Farid Uddi Attar with stage version by Jean-Claude Carriere and Peter Brook, will be performed at 8 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium on the Bethel College campus on Thursday, March 9, Friday, March 10, and Saturday, March 11.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors and children and are available at Thresher Bookstore in Schultz Student Center, open 8-5 Mon.-Fri., phone (316) 284-5205. Tickets are also available at the door.

Dramatic Publishing gives this synopsis of the play’s story: A nation of birds is in crisis. Urged on by one of their flock, the Hoopoe, they chart a path to find their king. There are moments of farce and despair as the birds attempt to cross the Seven Valleys with their disturbing riddles. Some of the birds die and some drop out, while others continue the quest. At last the survivors come into the presence of the Great One where they learn the secret: They themselves are the embodiment of the divine.

"This is a play that speaks to many people on many levels," said guest director Margaret A. Mead-Finizio. "The simple story of the birds’ journey is interesting in itself, but the deeper meaning in the birds’ longing to know and understand their leader is truly inspiring."

This is Mead-Finizio’s second turn as guest director for Bethel College. She also directed The Fantasticks, Bethel’s Fall Festival production. Mead-Finizio is currently director of the department of dance at the Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts as well as ballet instructor for Bethel College.

The cast of The Conference of the Birds is Brittany Baker, freshman from Kingman; Jenna Boettger, freshman from Hesston; Erin Bartlett, junior from Cheraw, Colo.; Amy Castle, junior from Gardner; Sara Hobbs, senior from Newton; and Allison Simon, senior from Derby.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and has been named a Top Tier college by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1998. For more information, see the Bethel web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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