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University Theatre company to perform at Canterbury

June 11, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A groundbreaking drama about gay Christians, performed last season by the Western Michigan University Theatre, has attracted international attention and an invitation for the original cast to present the work in England at a worldwide gathering of Anglican clerics.

By special invitation, two performances of WMU's recently sold-out production, "Seven Passages: The Stories of Gay Christians," will be given at the Lambeth Conference, which convenes once every 10 years in Canterbury, England, and attracts the leadership of the Anglican church from around the globe.

More than 800 bishops and archbishops of the Anglican Communion will gather at the Lambeth Conference July 16 through Aug. 4. Led by the archbishop of Canterbury, the three-week summit brings archbishops, diocesan, assistant and suffragan bishops from around the world together to consider issues facing the church and pass resolutions on the church's governance, its ministry and liturgy, and its engagement in the world.

WMU students will move the timely issues of gender and sexuality to center stage when they perform in conjunction with related conference discussions. The theatre production is one of just 30 events chosen for inclusion in the conference schedule.

"The opportunity to speak to those who head the Anglican church will not occur again for 10 years, so a great many groups put forward proposals to provide affiliated events for the conference," says Dr. Joan Herrington, chair of the WMU Department of Theatre. "Our selection recognizes the quality of our work and the importance of the subject matter we bring forward for consideration."

"Seven Passages" reveals the true stories of gay and lesbian Christians living in Southwest Michigan. It is the result of interviews conducted over the last five years by local playwright and WMU guest artist Stephanie Sandberg. The production aims to open and facilitate a dialogue with the Christian community and clear a path for reconciliation.

Sandberg directs the company and crew, which includes WMU students Andrea Arvanigian of Portage, Mich., a senior majoring in music theatre performance; Diana Conte of Sterling Heights, Mich., a senior majoring in theatre studies; Brenna C. Cronin of Chicago, a senior majoring in theatre performance; Nathan Gregorski of Scottville, Mich., a senior majoring in theatre performance; Michael Lopetrone of Sterling Heights, Mich., a sophomore majoring in theatre performance; Carmen Molina of Battle Creek, Mich., a junior majoring in theatre performance; Frank Williams of West Bloomfield, Mich., a junior majoring in theatre performance; and Scott Wiltsie of Stevensville, Mich., a sophomore majoring in theatre performance.

WMU's performance of "Seven Passages" at the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury is made possible by a generous grant from the Arcus Foundation.

Media contact: Tonya Hernandez, (269) 387-8400, tonya.hernandez@wmich.edu

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