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all for One's A Peculiar People Opens This Weekend

If the title of all for One’s current production, A Peculiar People, sounds familiar, it may be because the faith-based theatre company has staged this particular show before, as part of its 2012-13 season. It came to the attention of all for One artistic director Lauren Nichols thanks to a frequent collaborator and playwright Michael Wilhelm.

“We were always struggling to find plays that were appropriate, and we didn’t have a stable of actors yet,” Nichols said. “We also hadn’t spread our wings in the technical area. Michael had seen this play in Los Angeles and sent me the Playbill. It was from a Christian professional company so I contacted them to get a digital copy of the script. I read it and thought it did have great potential, but it needed a bit of polishing.”

The story, which is set in the 1st century Roman empire, centers around a Christian, Mariam, in prison who awaits sentencing. As she contemplates her fate, another accused Christian, Justinian, comes along but denies his attachment to Christ. The story sounds deadly serious, but the play itself is a comedy-drama and, although two acts, runs a crisp 90 minutes. Nichols contacted the playwright, Rick Najera, and asked if she could make a few changes.

“He was very gracious,” Nichols said. “It is such an intimate play. There are usually only two or three actors on the stage at any time. As we were planning our 30th anniversary season, we thought maybe it was time to do it again.”

As the play’s director for both productions, Nichols brought what she experienced 10 years ago to this new production.

“I knew all the things I missed the first time. There were nuances that I didn’t catch then and neither did the actors. But this is a deep thinking group, and we’ve had more time to read and ponder it and have had some great discussions. We’ve done some good problem solving and found things to compare and contrast.”

Playing the two leads are Conner and Adrienna Beer who will celebrate their third wedding anniversary during the show’s run. Conner is also accomplished at stage combat and has helped Nichols stage some of the play’s very physical scenes, allowing for both drama and safety. Nichols warns that the action may be a bit intense for young audiences, suggesting middle school and older, but she thinks the audiences who attend will be glad they did.

“It’s a great show. There’s a little bit of everything, and it’s very thought provoking. There’s humor and suspense, action and romance. And it asks ‘What does it mean to be willing to die for your beliefs?’”

A Peculiar People runs for two weekends--with Friday and Saturday evening performances and Sunday matinees--at the ArtsLab in the Auer Center. To purchase tickets, visit or call 260-422-4226.

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