‘I Believe’, a sound and light show, retells tales with a visual display that reminds viewers about the importance of faith
On a windy night, with clouds threatening to burst above us, several thousand people gathered in the open grounds of St Albert’s High School. As powerful lights circled the skies, the crowds climbed the steep gallery stairs and settled themselves in for the sound and light show by Ammamaram, ‘I Believe’. The evening went far beyond the grandeur of rich costumes, elaborate sets and nimble choreography, though. What remained at its close was the overarching theme of one faith through different cultures, ages, languages and circumstances.
‘I Believe’ was a portmanteau play of 20 stories ranging from the Biblical tale of Adam and Eve, God and the Serpent, to the modern-day narration of a family faced with the choice of abortion. Opening with Abraham’s call to the sacrifice of his only son Isaac, the play moved on to the Old Testament history of the proud king Nebuchadnezzar, and the New Testament evidence of mother Mary’s faith before the birth of Jesus. It spoke of the remarkable lives of St. Francis of Assisi, Fr. Damien and the lepers of Morocco, Mother Teresa and the homeless of Kolkata, and even depicted the brutal end of several of Jesus’ disciples - crucified on the cross, burnt at the stake or stoned to death.
Connecting all the threads together was the theatrical device of a red piece of cloth, supposedly given to Adam and Eve as clothing before they left the Garden of Eden. The story traces the journey of that cloth through different times, lands and lives before it reaches the play’s end, at which the cloth is passed on to each member of the audience as a symbolic reminder to continue in the faith of their ancestors. Each short tableau came with a message - for instance, Abraham’s narrative reminded one that one’s children are gifts of God, and therefore must be freed to follow their purposes.
The two-hour long show was written and conceptualised by Fr. Capistan Lopez, and its telling, aided by superb narration from filmmaker Lal, with songs by duo Berny-Ignatius and sound design by Ganesh. On stage, ‘I Believe’ was a seamless spectacle involving over 400 actors and 200 dancers, performing on five stages, including three portable ones, spread across a 12,000 sq foot space. Several scenes were embellished with well-rehearsed dance sequences by small children as well as adults, each dressed in colour coordinated costumes.
Credit must go to the depth of detail for each stage set - down to the flowers in the vases on a family dining table, and the scales on the fish that emerge from a white sea. Most memorable though were the live fire sequences - from the fire torches uses to light Fr. Damien’s boat, to the burning coals that alit saints, to the den of blazing fire into which Nebuchadnezzar’s throws those who disobey his decrees.
But as Capistan mentioned at the show’s farewell, “‘I Believe’ isn’t about the magnificent sound and light show, it’s about a message to be taken to heart.”
The show, conducted by Cochin Arts and Communication, in collaboration with the Catechetical Department of the Archdiocese and Family Apostolate, will be on till November 19 at 6.30 p.m. daily.