BY Peter Diamond | July 26 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


The value of life brought to life to at the Fringe Festival

Peter Diamond speaks to Jerry Averill about a play which hopes to boost Christian arts

Eight incredible true stories which highlight the value of life are coming to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe next month and organisers are hoping they can ignite the pro-life arts movement in Scotland.

Crowned with Glory and Honour, a one-hour long play, tells eight different global stories including that of a child who survived the holocaust, a man with Down’s syndrome who went on to become a pastor, and a mother and child of the Rwandan Genocide.

Scriptwriter Jerry Averill, who moved to Scotland in 2012 with his wife Elizabeth (pictured above) after spending nearly three decades working with a Christian theatre group in the US, hopes the play can highlight the value of life.


Inspiring arts

Averill, who with his wife holds workshops throughout the country, including in prisons, is hopeful that the latest date at the Fringe will provide a spark for more people to get involved in Christian arts ministry.

Each story within Crowned with Glory and Honour is brought to life by a narrator who highlights the points where society should be leading on life issues.

The play begins with a story of a child who was spared during the holocaust because of their ‘smallness.’

Averill said: “The first story is one that we know through my wife’s aunt who was in a concentration camp during the holocaust. A young boy’s parents were killed but he was spared because he was little and could the jobs that needed little hands. His value was in his smallness.”


‘Valuable to God’

The second sequence within the play depicts a man with Down’s syndrome whom Averill has worked with over several years in Nativity plays.

“That’s a really big issue now: even someone with Down’s syndrome who is valuable to God the Father is being eradicated,” Averill said. “How can we look at them and say they are not of value?”

The play also tells the story of a pastor who was almost aborted at birth but was saved by his great grandmother, while a fourth sequence features two women who live parallel lives except one woman chose to keep her child while the other had an abortion.

Staying with the theme of abortion, the fifth part of Crowned with Glory and Honour portrays a man who phones a counsellor after helping perform a home abortion. Crying, he wails down the phone, ‘I didn’t know it would look like me.’



The organisers have said that there will be counsellors available at every screening during the Fringe to help anyone who needs to talk or ask questions.

“If a woman has been through an abortion and is watching, or even a man, it may bring up some scars,” Averill said.

“We have contacted agencies that can provide support and it is being set up. The entire cast and production team will also be staying around post play to mingle with the crowd and just be there if people want to ask questions or talk about some of the issues which will inevitably come up.”


Real life stories

The play also explores the grief of a woman who had an abortion and, in the penultimate scene, an extraordinary real life story from Vietnam where, according to Averill, 40 per cent of all pregnancies are terminated each year.

“Tong Phuoc Phuc is a very interesting man,” Averill said about the story. “He and his wife had a lot of trouble conceiving and they eventually had a baby but during that time they went to the clinic a lot and Tong began to notice women coming in pregnant and leaving in distress having had an abortion.

“After repeatedly seeing this he went to the hospital staff and said he would like to honour the children by giving them a proper burial.

“He then started going to the hospital every night and collecting the aborted foetuses and giving them a proper burial and he’s being doing this for 15 years. This year it was revealed that he’s buried more than 15,000 aborted babies.”


Saving lives

Averill added that Tong Phuoc Phuc has since saved six babies’ lives by allowing the mothers to stay with him until they could support their child.

“Subsequently he decided to build an orphanage and today helps over 100 children and allowed 35 mothers to keep their children,” he said.

“This is story a for those people who say, ‘I’m just one person what can I do about the issue?’”


Rwandan Genocide

Crowned with Glory and Honour ends with a scene from the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and shows the trauma and horrors the women and children faced at the time.

The title of the play is based on scripture, when David says: “What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honour.”

A college group from Asbury College in North Carolina US will be coming to Scotland to perform Crowned with Glory and Honour from August 6 to 10 and tickets can be purchased at the venue (capacity 65).

Tickets will cost £5 and starts at 6pm in Carrubbers Christian Centre, The Oak Hall near the Royal Mile, Edinburgh.

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