Who would have pictured Jesus ministering downtown in a handsome beige suit while the devil walked amongst city-goers as a powerful business tycoon?
Over the Good Friday and Easter weekend, crowds flocked to Singapore Expo Hall 1 to watch City Harvest Church’s much-anticipated Easter drama production, Life-Book.
One service took place at the Jurong West church premises on Good Friday preceding the six services held at Singapore Expo from Friday evening till Sunday afternoon. The queue at Singapore Expo stretched as far as the length of two halls, snaking all the way up to the second level to prevent congestion with the outgoing crowd of the earlier service.
The CHC drama team once again outdid last year’s Easter drama production by adding on a totally new dimension to the resurrection story told time and time again for more than 2,000 years now. A hint of the storyline was given in this year’s Easter postcard invite that resembled the graphic interface of Facebook, an online social networking site.
The plot of the production, set in a modern-day city, showed no sign of a tomb; nor stone house or fishing boat. Instead, the backdrop had high-rise buildings and various metropolitan infrastructures. Jesus’ disciples took on a fresh and trendy look, grooving to modern day pop music.
Life-Book is a story about Andrew Lim, a young and driven computer science genius, intent on creating something bigger and better than Facebook, which has 400-million active users. At the expense of his family, Lim invests his entire life in creating Life-Book—an even more powerful social networking website that boasts of high tech features and real-time video streaming.
Seemingly impressed by Lim’s ingenuity, big shot businessman, Loo (the devil), acquires Life-Book and hires Lim to work for Loo Corporation, a technological giant. Blinded by fame, wealth and worldly pleasures, Lim finds himself sinking in bondage to the devil and his bidding.
The story climaxes over pressing conflicts faced by Lim; which includes a rape scene and a suicide attempt, tastefully and artfully portrayed by the actors. Life-Book becomes the tool for widespread Internet pornography and ultimately the campaign for Jesus’ crucifixion.
Life-Book is a reflection of real life—of how the pursuit of self-fulfillment and fortune can cause people to gradually drift away from things that really matter most in life; our loved ones.
Albert Chou, a Taiwanese who recently married a Singaporean flight stewardess late last year, understands this very well. “It’s absolutely vital to keep on loving one another despite any hardships in life. Jesus demonstrated that it’s possible to love even those who have hurt and offended you. At the end of the day, it’s not how much money you can earn or how successful you are that will determine your happiness. Relationship supersedes the material things of the world,” Chou commented.
The drama touched on prevalent real-life issues facing society today. But more importantly, the spotlight remained on the restoration of mankind through redemption—the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.
Amazingly, this year’s production went through final patching of plans only in late February 2010 after the Chinese New Year celebrations.
|CN PHOTOS: Poh Yangzheng, Maggie Chng , Yzanne Lim & Ryan Ng
Actors had to use the time in between to get themselves into good physical shape. Rommel Aviles, 36, the army officer who led his troops to usher Jesus to the death row, had to work out in the gym thrice a week in order to have an officer’s body to show for. Said Aviles, “In past Easter productions, I usually wore the ‘skirt’ of a Roman soldier. But in this modern-day setting, I had to ensure that I looked macho in an officer’s camouflage uniform.”
Tan Tian-An, 39, the resident “Jesus” of CHC, revealed, “I only had two months to diet for the role of Jesus. Due to the tight schedule at work, I was only able to focus on the rehearsals during the final week leading up to Good Friday, when I had to take leave from work so I could give the drama the focus it deserves.”
More than just the ingenuity and passion of the dramatists, the success of this year’s performance could be attributed to the unsung heroes behind the scenes. They were the committed volunteers and workers responsible for the artistic stage and props design, brilliant sound and lights display, original script and music scores; everything that went toward making Life-Book a concerted masterpiece.
A sponsorship manager for an international events company, Yumnam Ramkrishna, was visibly impressed and found the drama production “very professional.”
Lim Wee Lee, a veteran member of the drama ministry, and Life-Book’s production coordinator, shared with City News, “The whole drama team is a family that works toward one vision, one goal. I always encourage the team to do their best because the production’s success would not be possible without them.”
As the drama ministry once again lived up to their reputation as artists par excellence, the church also celebrated an amazing weekend with many who responded to a touch from God.