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Religious Martyr's Final Hours Brought to Life by Al Staggs for PAS 'View'


October 30, 2003

[ 'A View from the Underside' Illustration ] DELAWARE, OHIO -- Al Staggs will introduce religious martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer to the audience in A View From the Underside: The Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 8 p.m. in the Studio Theatre of Ohio Wesleyan's Chappelear Drama Center in an event that is co-sponsored by the Performing Arts Series and the Merrick Lecture Series.

Staggs brings the audience into a cell where Bonhoeffer awaits execution. The character is waging a personal battle with evil, injustice and God, but continues to hold his faith. He wrote, "I'm learning to practice myself what I have said to other people in sermons and books," to his mother after his arrest in 1943. He was executed in the Flossenburg Camp on April 9, 1945, only days before the Allies liberated the camp.

Bonhoeffer's life was a call to action. He was student, theologian, preacher, rebel leader and finally a religious martyr. As the Nazi party continued taking over the Christian Church in Germany, Bonhoeffer's outspoken concern and protest culminated when he started the Confessing Church in London. His continued protest of the Nazi party led to him be outlawed from speaking, preaching, writing or publishing, but the native German continued to feel the call to his homeland. He retreated to New York City and London on several occasions, but would always return to Germany, feeling that in order to help rebuild the country he must have been there when it was torn down.

Staggs life has also been a call to action. He served as a Baptist Minister for 24 years prior to becoming a full-time performance artist. He has earned a Bachelor's of Arts degree from Hardin-Simmons University, a Master's of Religious Education degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a Master's of Theology degree from Harvard Divinity School and the Doctor of Ministry degree from Austin Theological Seminary. He was honored as a Charles E. Merrill Fellow at Harvard in 1983 with a major emphasis in applied theology. Staggs also completed a year internship in Clinical Pastoral Education at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

Tickets for this show, and all Performing Arts Series productions, are $15 for general admission and $5 for Ohio Wesleyan students and can be purchased in advance by calling 740-368-3629.

The remaining Performing Arts Series events for 2003-2004 include Bill Evans in Reminiscences of a Dancing Man in Chappelear Drama Center on Jan. 17 and The Tom Christensen Ensemble on March 23 in Gray Chapel. All events begin at 8 p.m. More information on these events can be found at pas.owu.edu or by calling 740-368-3629.