Curio to Produce Play About Defrocked PA Pastor Frank Schaefer

Schaefer stands in front of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.

Schaefer stands in front of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.

The United Methodist Church purports to being guided by a simple principle: “All means all.” That sounds absolutely lovely, huh? But where was that ideology last winter when it decided to defrock Lebanon, Pennsylvania Reverend Frank Schaefer for officiating the marriage of his gay son? Are they really practicing what they preach?

That’s the concept being explored in Curio Theatre Company‘s upcoming The Frank Schaefer Project. The three-act show will delve into Schaefer’s story, something that Managing Director Gay Carducci tells me she was embedded in from the beginning. The idea to write it, however, didn’t hit her until, coincidentally, a member from the Calvary United Methodist Church (CUMC)  approached her about it. “Our theater is housed in an abandoned sanctuary in CUMC, and one day one of the members approached us and said, ‘I think this would make a great play.’ So the show fell in our laps — not just as a great idea for the theater, but as a story that needs to be told.”

Carducci and company enlisted the help of local playwrights Paul Kuhn and Tim Martin (who were both involved in Curio’s all-female production of Romeo and Juliet last fall.) The duo took the project under their belts with gumption, interviewing nearly 100 people — from folks who were at the trial to ministers to people from Lebanon and Frank’s family. “We also worked with Frank a lot,” she says. “We had multiple interviews with him, we went to his preaching events, and studied interviews he gave on shows like The View and Anderson Cooper 360. This really is our biggest undertaking.”

So far the first act has been written, and the rest, she suspects, will be in development right up until the projected early-November opening. There’s really no telling how it could end, especially since the story continues to progress. Just yesterday it was reported that Schaefer submitted an appeal to the Methodist Church to regain his credentials.

Another thing the success of the show is contingent upon is, you guessed it, funding. Curio recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000. Among other things, the money would go toward staging a special performance in Lebanon (“that community has given so much of their time to the making of this show), and paying the six actors and playwrights for the time spent researching the project. So far $2,735 has been raised toward the goal, and there are 17 days left until the campaign ends on July 6th.

To donate, visit Curio’s Kickstarter here. They’ve also put together a nifty video that explains their passion behind the project. You can see that below.