20th annual performance to commemorate 100th anniversary of Mary’s apparitions in Portugal with two special shows
Story by Reagan Scott
LINCOLN (SNR) - This year, S.T.A.G.E. will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the miracle at Fatima with their 20th annual Fatima production at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13 and 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15 in St. Teresa’s Kaczmarek Hall, 36th and Randolph Streets.
The mission of S.T.A.G.E., which stands for Student Theater and Godly Evangelization, is to spread the word of God through the performance of plays. Lee Hotovy, the writer and director for the group’s productions, started S.T.A.G.E. in the basement of St. Teresa Church in 1999.
Today, the group puts on three to four productions a year in which students and adults are given a chance to act.
The upcoming Fatima play will feature a cast of 50, with children as young as 3, as well as adults.
While the first Fatima production was held at St. Teresa Church, the play was added to the annual Marian Mass and candlelight rosary procession at the Catholic Center in Waverly, where it took place for 18 years. This year, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the play and the 100th anniversary of Fatima, the play is being moved back to St. Teresa, where the audience will be able to experience the play in a whole new way.
“We want it to be unique for the 100th anniversary,” Hotovy said, “and people will be able to learn more about the history of Portugal at the time and the significance of the words of Mary.”
Adding a new technological element to the production, Hotovy plans to project pictures of Portugal and the children to whom Mary appeared, Lucia Santos and Jacinta and Francisco Marto. The setup will also be different this year, allowing the audience to become better immersed in the play.
“With a more intimate setting, we are hoping that people will feel that they are pilgrims at Fatima in that very moment,” Hotovy said.
Father Jamie Hottovy, the pastor at St. Teresa Parish, said he is excited to have the production held in Kaczmarek Hall once again, and is looking forward to seeing the new innovative approach to the play.
“It’s going to involve all of the senses, and I think it’s going to engage the audience in a new and different way,” Father Hottovy said. “I believe that this will set it apart as a dramatic presentation.”
He believes that the audience too will react positively to this year’s new approach.
“It’s exciting to see S.T.A.G.E. breathe new life into the story of Our Lady and I think that people are going to be incredibly inspired by it,” Father Hottovy said.
In the 20 years that Hotovy has directed the performance, she has been witness to many significant moments and events, including one in 2001, on the day of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
When 9/11 occurred, the cast was rehearsing near the Marian Bell Tower in preparation for their performance the next day. At the sound of a plane, they looked up to see the only aircraft allowed in the sky. Air Force One, flanked by two stealth bombers, was on its way to Offutt Air Force Base to keep President George W. Bush safe after the attacks.
Hotovy called Msgr. Joseph Nemec, who was pastor at the time, to ask whether or not they should still perform. He responded that they should and that many people would want to come pray. The next day, Sept. 12, S.T.A.G.E. performed in front of a record-breaking 2,000 people.
During another year, a mother with cancer had the chance to see her daughter play the part of Lucia in the production.
“It was really significant that the words of Mary were given to her daughter,” Hotovy said, “and that she was able to share the sacrificial and healing message of Fatima.”
Throughout the years that the play has been performed, it has remained unique in that it allows families to take part in a theatrical piece, while having fun and sharing the words of Our Lady of Fatima.
“It is a beautiful piece when spoken live, versus reading it in a book,” Hotovy said. “It really stirs people’s hearts. I think that the words Mary spoke carry a lot of weight and are really significant for this time and century.”
Father Hottovy encouraged people to attend the play and see the message of Fatima brought to life in a new way.
He said, “Experiences like these are all opportunities for deepening our faith and understanding and seeing how the message of Fatima does impact us in 2017. It’s exciting to have this creative avenue of expressing our faith.”
Performances are set for Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. and Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. Doors will open one half-hour before showtime, with general seating.
A free will donation will be taken up prior to entrance with a suggested donation of $5 per person to cover the expenses of the production. Devotional materials, along with refreshments will be provided in Kaczmarek Hall following the one-hour performance.