Enter the story of six saints’ lives with these dynamic, performance-proven plays for youth ages 8 and up. These plays make perfect Vacation Church School projects or additions to your youth program. They’re presented in order of the feast days of the Saints, from April to December for ease of planning. Learn immersively about St. Innocent of Alaska, Holy Queen Tamar, St. Paraskevi, St. Panteleimon, St. Nicholas of Myra, and the Three Holy Youths, and bring your church family into the story in a way that they will remember!
Christine Siampos grew up in suburban St. Louis, switching between two parishes her entire life. After performing in a play at Vacation Church School, she developed a passion for storytelling that accompanied her throughout her life. She spent her middle and high school years in private schools, reading fiction and developing her own stories, many of which are inspired by Greek Orthodox themes. Not forgetting the origin of her gift, Christine wrote her first play, “Into the Flames”, when she was in high school, based off of the story of the three youths in the fire. It debuted that summer, performed by the middle-schoolers of the very same Vacation Church School that she attended. The success of the play gave birth to a yearly tradition; her spiritual father would give her a saint and she would write and direct a play about his or her life, hoping to teach and inspire as well as develop her own writing style.Now, Christine has expanded her storytelling style to include film, prose, and photography in addition to her play-writing. She’s graduated from Webster University with a BA in Media Communications with an emphasis in writing and filmmaking. One of her short films was selected for a student film festival, and she’s currently working on several fictitious book series and screenplays to share with the world.
Elina Pelikan’s illustrations draw on her iconography background, her familiarity with Orthodox Christian symbols, and her rich experience directing youth theater. Elina is an Orthodox artist whose digital art, illustrations, and other art and teaching revolve around the center of her work as a Byzantine iconographer. In Elina’s words, “Iconography is unlike any artform I have ever worked with, as it is more than just the paint and board or canvas that I am working with; it truly becomes a window to something deeper and greater, a cooperation with God and His saints. In visual art I used to feel most fulfilled when sculpting-I love working in 3 dimensions, but in iconography the third dimension is the very real and present spiritual dimension.” Elina has worked on illustrations for other forthcoming projects for Park End Books, but Into the Flames is her first foray into full book illustration.
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Gail Suess-Brandow –
Into the Flames and Other Plays on Saints’ Lives by Christine Siampos is an engaging and instructive collection of plays for Orthodox children. The six plays are about St Innocent of Alaska, Queen Tamar, Saint Paraskevi, St. Panteleimon, St. Nicholas of Myra, and the Three Holy Youths. All of the plays have fact-filled, historically based scripts and include notes on scenery, props and costuming.
“The North Star of American’s Church” (St. Innocent) is particularly poignant and is told without the use of a narrator. In this play two children are frightened in a wood and pray for help. They meet a mysterious man who helps them escape from wolves and then directs them to a mysterious woman who tells them about St. Innocent and St. Herman. The next day she is nowhere to be found. It turns out that she and the mysterious man were both saints that the children encountered.
All six plays include facts about the Saints in very accessible format. These would be fun to act out in Sunday School or for the Church as audience. The illustrations by Elina Pelikan are simple and concise. Ideas are also given to make the plays possible for children with disabilities. The number of actors required and the age range is flexible. The only thing missing is a follow-up volume!
Jocelyn Estes Abyad –
When I heard this book was coming out, I was so excited! It is a collection of plays to put on with your church school or co-op group about the saints! @parkendbooks graciously shared a copy with me in return for an honest review, so here it is!
I absolutely love the concept of this book! In my more than ten years teaching Sunday school, I have come to realize that our children learn best through lively interaction with the material- and what better way to do it than through plays! All children love to dress up and the simple costume ideas and prop suggestions will make these performances simple to put together on a limited budget. I love the message of inclusion and accessibility at the front of the skits as well, and I could see these performances being a great way to allow children of all ages and abilities to participate in Sunday School. I also plan on using these scripts to supplement our homeschool co op program. I’m really excited to share these with the children!
Anastasia Ellis –
* Note: I received a promotional copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
When I heard about this book, I was immediately excited. There are very few Orthodox centered plays for kids. Kids learn best when they are actively engaged in their learning, and this book about Orthodox Saints does just that. As soon as I read the first play of Saint Herman, I was hooked. What I loved most about the plays was the simplicity: They are easy to understand and to act for all ages. My biggest concern was that it would not be suitable for small parish or church communities, but that was immediately a non-issue. Siampos makes it very easy for small and large communities alike to be able to put on a production. As an educator, church school coordinator and teacher, and an Orthodox mom to three girls, I strongly recommend this addition to not just your church school or homeschool curriculum but to your home library as well.
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