“Ten, Ten”: theatre, life and faith

For the past year the British theatre company has been touring schools, parishes and prisons to interpret daily life through the lenses of the Gospel

It’s very popular in the Catholic world, and it has been staged across thousands of Christian schools: the theatre company “Ten, Ten” disseminates the Gospel message helping children, young people and adults to put it into everyday life. An experience of art, culture, education and faith, active for the past decade in the United Kingdom. Divided to save one another. We are in London, during World War Two, a displaced child in the country for months manages to escape and is looking for his mother. It’s a heart-breaking scene. The street where he used to live has been destroyed, the familiar shops, like the confectionery, are gone. The child starts feeling overwhelmed with anguish. Perhaps also his mother is gone. Fortunately all ends well. His mother is alive. She became a Red Cross nurse for the army and tells the child that it’s important for him to stay in the countryside to save himself and help the farmer who is sheltering him. Also his mother suffers from this separation, but it’s a positive form of suffering that must be lived out. Triggering emotions to control them. With this play, presented in hundreds of Catholic schools throughout England, the theatre company “Ten, Ten” helps children in the last year of primary schools to address the difficult emotions linked to separation before entering high school. Eleven-year-olds who watch the play are invited to talk about what separation means to them, why it is necessary and why it’s important for growth. The actors guide them in a dialogue that helps them let go of their emotions, understand them and master them in order to make the right choices without getting lost on the wrong paths. In London’s West End. Written in 2006 by the siblings Clare and Martin O’Brien to spread the program of sexual education in Catholic schools, inspired by the theology of the body of John Paul II, this successful charity operates in conjunction with over 65000 Christian schools, mostly Catholic, as well as in penitentiaries, parishes and social centres throughout England, Wales and Scotland and staged important shows also in London’s famous West End theatres. The Gospel always at the centre. The phrase “Ten, ten” is taken from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 10: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”. Indeed, the company “Ten, ten” gives, or restores life in full, to all children, adolescents and parents; it meets in the belief that “young people should be raised in a loving and safe environment and raised with a sense of responsibility towards themselves and those near them”. The success of the initiative, which only depends on the money collected with the shows and on donations, does not receive public funding, and is due, without question, to the professional preparation of its two founders: the commercial experience of Clare, former manager of Christie’s, London’s famous auction house, and the performing skills of her brother Martin, who has worked in the most renowned theatres of the British capital. Today over 30 professional actors are involved in this project. Also in prisons and parishes. With script and costumes the actors “Ten, ten” face the entire range of social problems: from stabbing, ever more frequent in London’s crime-ridden neighbourhoods, to families in dire straits, to drug-addicts. Parents often take part in the meetings organized in schools. The theatre company also works with convicts and in parishes. Among the “Ten, ten” performances inspired by the work of Pope John Paul II, who was also a dedicated actor and playwright, figures a show dedicated to sexual education for primary and secondary schools. “Chased” stages the story of Scott e Carly confused by the world they live in and by physical development that they become the victims of pressure from friends, television and cinema almost loosing track of their own dignity. Nonetheless, in the course of their story they manage to identify their hearts’ deepest desires. They learn to respect themselves and others, be loved and love in return, just like Jesus. Thus, following and discussing about the show, but also by praying, thirteen-year-olds understand what it means to “be in the world” but not “of this world”.

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