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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)

By Paul Servini


Ladies and gentleman, a warm welcome to our guest, this morning, John Albright. Good morning John and thanks for being part of our breakfast program today. Since the opening of your play, Idol, last week, the whole town is buzzing with your name. But nobody seems to know who you are. Do you mind telling us something about yourself?

Thank you, Joanna. Well the first thing of interest is that I'm quite an unusual first time writer. I was born way back in 1928 which makes me 79 this year. And that's very relevant to what I've written, as is the fact that I'm a family man. I've been married to Hilde now for 54 years and we have five children and 17 grandchildren with at least two more on the way. We are lucky enough to share together a large farmhouse which means we each have our own measure of privacy whilst sharing our daily life together. That's important because it was one of my motivations in writing. I had something important to say and wanted the family to share in it.

So in a sense it's a testament to your family?

Yes, indeed. The fact that the play found its way into the public eye was a big surprise. But then, as I told myself later, what is the public if not a further extension of the family. So, it's become a personal message to a much wider audience.

The play itself explores the reasons behind the rise of Hitler. That's something you experienced first hand, isn't it?

That's quite right. I was 5 when Hitler came to power and obviously can't remember much about that. But at school I joined the Hitler youth movement and very soon became quite convinced that Hitler and National Socialism was the only answer for our country. I'm ashamed to say so now, but for me Hitler was my God. I believed in him 100%. In the play I try to take a look at why that was.

Your play is obviously autobiographical. Do you think that's why it has caused such a stir?

Yes, but not just because it's my biography, but because it's the biography of so many others. It affects people of my own generation as well as those of every generation right down to our young people today. I discovered this when I became a teacher and was faced with so many people asking me why.

Albert Camus talking about why he writes, says: A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession. Is that the essence of your play?

Yes, but it's not just a confession of guilt experienced. If that's all you've got out of it, then I'm afraid you've failed to grasp its real message. It's a confession of the power of guilt forgiven. Guilt experienced can be devastating. Just ask a psychologist, or anyone else involved in helping people get over guilt; they'll all say the same. For years I refused to face up to my guilt. I tried to rationalise it; to persuade myself I was misled into something I didn't really want, or tell myself I was no worse than others. But I didn't find any peace while running away from my guilt. At the same time it was impossible to face up to because it was so damning. It was only once I heard the message that guilt could be forgiven that I began to see a way out. There followed a lot of soul-searching but I finally realised that God indeed could forgive because his Son had paid the price for my guilt by dying on the cross. The day I grasped that, a crushing boulder rolled its way out of my life. The feeling was indescribable, or maybe I'd better day it's taken me almost 50 years to begin to describe it. That's what Idol is really about.

What an amazing story! Thank you very much, John. If you want to find out more, Idol is playing at the Stateside theatre, Munich until the end of the month.

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This article has been read 608 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Donna Powers 01/25/07
The story made me want to see the play, and that's a credit to its ability to capture interest. Nice work
Mona Lisa01/29/07
I am also inquistive about the play. Interesting approach to describing guilt forgiven, your question answer format kept my interest. the subject of playwriting is an art. so is the art of telling a story. well done.
Joanne Sher 01/29/07
Creative take on the topic - I also would love to see the play. I liked the interview format.
Patty Wysong01/29/07
I love how you worked in the Gospel! Well written. Good job.
Edy T Johnson 01/29/07
Am I really reading in level-1? This is powerful stuff, and I hope you have a wide audience for "Idol," whether this story or the full drama. You write about an era in history that has gripped my reading attention since I first heard about Anne Frank. I think you have the makings of a book, or a play, in your work-of-art presentation here. I look forward to discovering who you are!
Jan Ackerson 01/30/07
This was very interesting to me, as I had grandparents who shared many of the same feelings and experiences. Thanks for sharing!
Joanney Uthe01/30/07
Powerful writing. I also, would like to see the play after reading this interview. Great story with a great message.
Shari Armstrong 01/30/07
The lack of " marks took a bit of getting used to, but well worth the read. (although I think maybe this would have fit in the week for writing better :) )

Wonderful stuff :)
Sara Harricharan 01/31/07
This was pretty good! I was looking for the quotation marks, but once I got into the story, I didn't miss them too much because of the spacing. Wish I could have known more about the play, but very well done! ^_^