Characters in the play: historic or fictitious?

BEND US imageI confess that I had never heard of the Welsh revival until Dave Frincke shared his script with me. But it has become increasingly obvious how much reading Dave has done on the subject.

For example:  A scene feels long–I suggest cutting the hymn, since it feels extraneous. “Oh no,” says Dave. “That hymn is strongly associated in all the accounts with this incident.”  So we find another solution.

Many of the characters portrayed are historic, including:  Evan Roberts, Sidney Evans, Florrie Evans (no relation to Sidney), Annie Davies, Peter Price and William Griffiths. In come cases, what is known about a character is very slight, which has allowed the playwright some freedom to use his imagination, and his knowledge of the revival at large, to fill in the blanks.

Florrie Evans (played by Amanda Gordley) is the best example of this: we know

afO actress Amanda Gordley holding a photo of the historic Florrie Evans, whom Amanda portrays.

afO actress Amanda Gordley holding a photo of the historic Florrie Evans, whom Amanda portrays.

that she stood up in a chapel service and declared her love for Jesus Christ. We know that the others present were stirred by her words and a sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence. There was weeping and confessing. And the young people decided on the spot to visit other chapels and share their testimonies. Dave has made Florrie one of the central figures of his play, and uses her parents to represent two other Welsh populations: the coal miner and the traditional lukewarm church-goer.

More is known about Reverend Peter Price (Jeff Salisbury), pastor of Bethania Chapel in Dowlais and an outspoken critic of one of the key figures of the revival, Evan Roberts. In the second act, Peter Price’s letter to the Western Mail (a Welsh newspaper) is quoted verbatim.  Nathan Smith portrays Evan Roberts, a dynamic young preacher, and several key scenes in the play are based on well-documented events. Some include Roberts’ own words.

Rev. Seth Joshua (John Dunlap) appears in one brief scene. He is credited with originating the metaphorical phrase, “Bend us!” which is a plea for God to help the believer to fully surrender to His perfect will, and this is depicted in the play.

While the events of the revival are interesting from both a historical and a spiritual perspective, they don’t necessarily provide a typical story arc, although Peter Price is antagonistic towards Evan Roberts. The central conflict of the play is provided by the fictional characters, as they react to the revival and its effects on the culture. These specific characters, though not historic, are yet acting consistently with everything we know of the events of the times.

For an excellent overview of the revival, please check out this post on the blog, Welldigger, written by a Welshman whom Dave visited several times. He has prepared this summary as an accompaniment to the play.

Some of the cast of BEND US, at Taste of the Arts on August 29, 2015.

Some of the cast of BEND US, at Taste of the Arts on August 29, 2015.

About godsbooklover

I'm a Christ-follower, a writer, a voracious reader, and a piano teacher. I'm married to my best friend and we have two grown sons and a gorgeous granddaughter. I am the Artistic Director of a theatre ministry. And in my "spare" time, I blog.

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