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Faith in Drama

Theatre will always be a part of my work, because it is a part of me,” says Sally (Nunn) Juarez (B.A., Speech and Drama, ’66; M.A., Drama, ’69). As the associate of drama at Montclair Presbyterian Church near Oakland, California, Juarez uses her talent and passion for theatre to create what she calls “healing drama.”

“When one tells his or her story of a painful experience to a caring and supportive group of people who ‘bear witness’ to the pain, the result is a liberation from that pain, and a ‘healing’ takes place,” explains Juarez. Healing begins not only in the person whose story is told, says Juarez, but in the heart of the listener as well, who has his or her own burden and can identify with the suffering of another. “We gain compassion for our brothers and sisters when we walk in their shoes,” she says.

Montclair Presbyterian, like many other churches, would like to expand its role in the community; involving people in dramatic productions, from set building to acting, is one way to reach more people. Juarez had scheduled auditions for a church production for Sept. 11. “Understandably, no one showed up,” she says, adding that she believes the need for healing drama became more urgent. “The community needed to share their fears, as well as their hopes for the world, about the new reality we were facing.” Juarez invited people of all ages from the church’s congregation to write poetry, prose, or dramatic monologue about the events of Sept. 11 and their aftermath. “Combined with liturgical dance, prayer, and music, we had a special Sunday morning ‘healing drama,’ which helped us move forward,” says Juarez.

In May 2001, Juarez received a master of divinity from the San Francisco Theological Seminary. As she awaits the privilege of leading a church of her own, she is pursuing one of her greatest interests—“interfaith dialogue”—for which, she says, the need has intensified after Sept. 11, as people of different faiths seek to understand one another.

“The church, synagogue, and mosque offer membership in an ‘extended family,’ ” notes Juarez, “as well as a tangible way to put faith into action by working with others for the common good of all human beings.”

Juarez says she is also drawn to multicultural communities, and, as always, she would like to use her creative gifts in her ministry. As for the future, “I am waiting to find out where it all takes me,” she says.

Lisa Kirk, Public Affairs and Publications

 

   
  Chico Statements is published by the Office of Public Affairs and Publications twice a year for alums, parents, faculty, staff, and friends of California State University, Chico.
   

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