The Australia cast for THE INVITATION included Laurel Clark as Shirin Ebadi, Tad Messenger as Albert Schweitzer, Christine Madar as Betty Williams, Barbara Condron (creator of the play) the Narrator, Sheila Benjamin as Mother Teresa, Jesse Kern as Martin Luther King Jr., Paul Madar as H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Pam Blosser as Alva Myrdal, and Jesse Reece as Linus Pauling. This was the first time the play was presented outside the United States. We appreciate Melbourne Unity’s hospitality and interest in our work which made it all possible.
Christine Madar as Betty Williams
Thirteen parables for our modern times. Stories spanning the globe and belief systems from around the world
D R E A M T I M E:
Parables of Universal Law while Down Under
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December 6, 2009
Melbourne, AustraliaUnity of Melbourne hosted the international premiere of THE INVITATION this afternoon. The performance was the international premiere of the four movement play presented at the Peace Dome on the campus of the College of Metaphysics in the United States each year.
The U.S. cast included Dr. Laurel Clark as Shirin Ebadi, Dr. Pam Blosser as Alva Myrdal, Sheila Benjamin as Mother Teresa, Paul Madar as H.H. the Dalai Lama of Tibet, Jesse Kern as Martin Luther King, Jr., Christine Madar as Betty Williams, Tad Messenger as Albert Schweitzer, and Jesse Reece as Linus Pauling.
A short film “A Life Worth Examining”, featuring photos of the historical conditions existing during the time of the eight Nobel Laureates featured in the program, along with a voice-over of each laureate describing their “defining moment” made its debut as part of the program. Paul Madar created the film from narratives penned and voiced by cast members.
"We were privileged to host this inspiring play," said Rev. Livingston. "We had a sense of making history today."•
an except from the book
Universal Truth Stories from The Land Down Under
I Expand My Consciousness
By Christine Madar
Gazing out the window of our large tour bus I felt safe, as the vehicle was big, and I was surrounded by American students and Irish professors. It was from this vantage point that I witnessed a most simple scene. A young woman was pushing a stroller down the street and on the corner was an armed soldier. He lifted his gun and trained it on someone, or something. The woman kept walking, pushing her baby right in front of the line of fire.
My stomach flipped and eyes opened wide. Echoes of my parents voices rang through my head, “Don’t ever point a gun at anyone and never walk in front of a pointed gun.” We never even had guns in our house, let alone armed guards on the street corners. Yet, my mother and father felt it was important to teach this bit common of sense, and I had received it. No one was pointing a gun at me in that moment, but the innate urge for survival, protection and safety welled up within for this woman and her child.
I felt relief when the woman crossed the street without incident and the soldier rested the gun by his side, glancing off in a different direction. I also felt a kind of sadness and despair that seemed impossible to define. The woman appeared to be indifferent, so did the soldier. People live this way in the world?
It was 1988 and I was in Belfast, Northern Ireland (above with my host, Ann Joyce).
Fast-forward twenty years.
Now it was July 2008 and I was in Windyville, Missouri on the College of Metaphysics campus. Early one morning Laurie Biswell, a COM graduate teacher, slipped in wet grass and fell, breaking her ankle. After surgery and a few weeks of recovery it was evident that she would be unable to portray Betty Williams in the August performance of The INVITATION at the Peace Dome on campus.
The INVITATION is a one-hour dramatic presentation that tells the story of eight Nobel Peace Prize Laureates. My husband, Paul, had portrayed the Dalai Lama for five years in The INVITATION so I was well acquainted with the vision, message and dream that was the driving force of this performance. Laurie had been the only person to portray the Irish peace activist Betty Williams in all the time the play had been given. Now there was an open door and Dr. Barbara Condron, the creator and director, asked if I would like to step into Betty’s shoes for that August performance.
I thought about it a day or so, and decided to give it a go. I had felt a connection to Betty ever since I had heard her story. Betty is a woman who grew up in Belfast. She had witnessed, at close range, a car crash that killed three children from one family, and seriously injured their mother. The mother was pushing her baby in a stroller when the incident occurred. The driver of the car had been shot dead in a shoot-out he had instigated with British soldiers.
I have tremendous respect for Betty Williams. Her efforts, along with Mairead Corrigan rallied hundreds of thousands of people to march for peace in 1976 and 1977. She brought Protestants and Catholics together to form a common goal for a different, better life in Northern Ireland, free of the tyranny of battles, death and fear. These two women earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.
For six year, The INVITATION brought my brief, benign experience in Belfast to the forefront of my attention. In 1988, it was as if I had experienced a portal, an opening, into the collective consciousness of the people in Northern Ireland. Now, it felt as if that portal was opening again, with new light and new perspectives, as I prepared to join The INVITATION .
I had nine days to learn lines and the simple staging of the performance, which is given in the round, upper chamber of the Peace Dome on the College of Metaphysics campus. Interestingly, one of those days coincided with the 33rd anniversary of the horrific car crash that changed Betty’s life. On August 10, 2008, I sat alone, after running my lines in the Peace Dome, contemplating the resonance of time and space, people and events. I was only eight years old in 1976. In 1988, it was through the eyes of a twenty year old that I watched the woman, her child and the soldier in Belfast cross paths. Now, at the age of forty all of these things were related.
Since The INVITATION had come into being I had occasion to revisit my own, brief yet simple moment in Belfast through new eyes. Learning to embody Betty Williams, helped me to understand why the pain I felt that day was tangible. It was not imagined, and it was linked to the history of an entire culture.
When I thought deeply about it, the resonance of Ireland in late 20th century echoed thousands of years of human warring. The round chamber of the Peace Dome is conducive to magnifying thoughts. My consciousness expanded through time and space. The effect was most profound because it heightened my awareness of the present moment. It was an enormous honor to be the conduit for these energies to manifest in this current time period.
So, in August of 2008, I stepped into Betty’s shoes and, among other things, these shoes led me and 14 others to Melbourne, Australia, a year later.
The story continues