Young Adults ‘Wine Down’ with ‘William, Wine and the Word’

Fifty young adults enjoy “William, Wine and the Word” Feb. 23 at the DAR Cabin at the Bethlehem Rose Garden. The evening included an interactive performance, dancing, drinks and light fare. (Photos by John Simitz)

Staff writer

Young adults of the Diocese were invited to “wine down” on a rainy and cold winter’s night in Bethlehem, as they watched Shakespeare and his troupe perform “Macbeth” and hilariously grapple with the beauty of our faith.

Fifty young adults gathered for “William, Wine and the Word” Feb. 23 at the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) Cabin at the Bethlehem Rose Garden.

The house is not just a log cabin – it is a replica of the first house that was built in Bethlehem in 1741.

The Diocesan Office of Youth, Young Adult and Family Ministry (OYYAFM) and Sing for America (SFA) presented the event, which included an interactive performance, dancing, drinks and light fare.

“One of the goals of “William, Wine and the Word” is to reach young adults where they are, particularly those who are not already in the pew,” said Alexa Smith, director of OYYAFM, who welcomed those gathered.

“Many young adults seem to enjoy social events where they can relax with peers and be entertained, so this collaboration with Sing for America was designed to reach the 21-35 age group in a setting where they are comfortable, for a performance that will invite them to explore themes of morality.”

“This is a great opportunity to reach out to young adults and give them some thought provoking points,” said Bishop Alfred Schlert, who attended the event. “It’s a Saturday night where they can come together and meet other Catholic young adults, giving life to a Saturday night.”

Mary Fran Hartigan, secretary of the Diocesan Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization, also attended.

SFA produces Broadway-style musicals using actors of varied backgrounds, ages and levels of experience, elevating each cast member to his or her highest potential. Quality musicals, plays and original pieces are performed year round and made available to the public.

The Gilbert family, parishioners of St. Thomas More, Allentown, is at the core of SFA, and includes siblings Jorne, Teara, Tasia, Taryn and Jewel. Their father Bruce was also a part of the production, and mother Gina attended. They were joined by other performers in “William, Wine and the Word.”

“Our mission is to evangelize through participation in and patronage of our shows, and also to provide a moral and faith strengthening community experience for Catholics,” Jewel Gilbert said in an interview in the July 12, 2018 issue of The A.D. Times.

The evening’s production, a play within a play, paused at various intervals as the players discussed the moral themes, such as a character saying, “I want to empathize with Macbeth. He’s like me, it’s not his fault,” and another chiming in, “It’s easy to believe you’re as good a person as you think you are.”

Other characters debated who was morally worse – Macbeth or Lady Macbeth. “Lady Macbeth knows what’s good and what’s evil, and chooses what’s evil,” one character said.

The other responded, “Macbeth is a relativist who muddies the waters between right and wrong. Macbeth confuses good and evil – he thinks good is evil and evil is good, and that’s the devil’s whole lie.”

The performance brought to light several thought-provoking moral themes as the characters reflected on their personal lives in “offstage” conversations. Some of these moral themes included the interplay between God’s will and free will, the role grace plays in our choices, and the meaning and fulfillment we search for in our work.

The moral themes discussed in the side conversations were intended to relate to moral questions that often face young adults.

There was also an interactive part of the production, as audience members joined with the cast in a lively dance-off to songs such as “The Electric Slide,” “The Locomotion” and Rufus Wainwright’s “Hallelujah.”

“Each actor had roles in ‘Macbeth,’ and a role outside of ‘Macbeth,’ as it was a show within a show,” said Jewel Gilbert.

“We were a stage company celebrating their 10-year reunion with a reunion performance of Macbeth. ‘William, Wine and the Word’ was the final dress rehearsal before the actual performance. The audience played ‘crew’ members and were involved in and witness to the stage company’s interaction with each other as they rehearsed.

“It was akin to ‘Tony and Tina’s Wedding,’ where the audience are guests at the wedding of Tony and Tina,” Gilbert said.

The evening ended with a social, which allowed young adults the opportunity to mingle. Wine was provided by four local Lehigh Valley wineries – Tolino, Amore, Franklin Hill and Sorrenti – and the food selection by Paragon Catering.