A one-man play by Aldyth Morris
Starring Wayne Messmer as Father (Saint) Damien
We are now accepting requests for a limited number of selected dates to bring the critically acclaimed production of the one-man play Damien, by Aldyth Morris, starring Wayne Messmer to churches, schools, theaters and organizations. The Damien Play has a running time of one hour and thirty minutes. Many groups choose to offer this opportunity as a fundraiser, while others have chosen to present the play as a gift to their community rather than as a fundraising event with private donations and/or business sponsorships secured by the group to underwrite the production fee.
Father (Saint) Damien Story
Born in Tremolo, Belgium on January 3, 1840, Joseph DeVeuster took the name Damien after joining the religious life with the Order of the Sacred Hearts. In 1864, he was sent to Honolulu, where he was ordained. For the next decade, he did mission work on the Big Island of Hawaii. In 1873, he went to the isolated island of Molokai, after volunteering to live and work among the leper colony there. While he committed himself to lepers of all ages, he was especially concerned about the children of these forgotten people who had been segregated from their families and loved ones. Damien himself was declared a leper in 1885, but continued his work, building chapels, clinics, cottages and a hospital. A skilled carpenter, he personally constructed hundreds of cottages and thousands of coffins for his flock. Damien died on Easter Monday night, April 15, 1889 at his quarters at the Kalawao settlement on Molokai.
Under constant criticism during his lifetime, Damien’s honor and life’s work was defended by the legendary author of Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson, whose letter in support of the “Hero of Molokai” is considered a literary classic in its own right.
Damien was declared venerable in 1977. Saint Pope John Paul II declared him beatified on June 4, 1995. He became Saint Damien at a canonization ceremony at the Vatican presided by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009. Saint Damien’s feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his passing to eternal life each year on April 15.
Aldyth Morris, author of the play Damien, was living in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1936, when the body of the Flemish priest, Father Damien de Veuster, was exhumed from its grave at the Leper Settlement on the Hawaiian island of Molokai and brought back to the priest’s native land of Belgium. It was another forty years until this play was written, but since its first performance, there seems always to be an actor, professional or amateur, who wants to perform the role. The play has been translated into Flemish, French, Japanese, and Spanish. It has been performed in Australia, Belgium, Japan, Hawaii, across the United States in Canada and in Edinburgh and Dublin. A television production of Damien by Hawaii Public Television has been shown throughout the United States, receiving a Peabody Award, and has been published for home viewing.
Morris wrote eight full-length plays. Four, including today’s play, tell the stories of people of great strength and their influences on the history of Hawaii in the 18th and 19th centuries. Captain James Cook, on his second voyage around the world (one of the greatest voyages ever made) brought the Hawaiian Islands to the attention of the world; he later met his death in those islands. Robert Louis Stevenson, on his worldwide search for health, visited Hawaii and the Leper Settlement, and wrote his famous “Damien Letter.” Lili’uokalani was the last queen of Hawaii; the overthrow of her monarchy led to the annexation of Hawaii by the United States.
Aldyth Morris was born in the Rocky Mountain town of Logan, Utah, and after living and working in San Francisco and New York, made her home in Honolulu for sixty years with her husband, architect Ray Morris. For many years she was managing editor of the University of Hawaii Press. She died in 1997 at the age of 95.
WPM PRODUCTIONS. Inc. will provide:
- The Actor (well-known Chicagoan Wayne Messmer as Father Damien)
- A technical director/stage manager to run sound and lights.
- Costume and all required hand props.
- All music, sound effects and voice/over audio to be used in the performance.
- A publicity photo of Wayne Messmer for marketing, advertising and promotional use.
- A Customized PDF File Theatrical Program to be printed and distributed by the Venue.
- A Customized PDF File Flyer/Poster to be used for publicity and promotion.
- A Customized PDF File Press release to be used with local media
- Payment of performance rights fees and royalties.
- An option to arrange for a post-performance “Meet and Greet” with Wayne Messmer
VENUE/CONTRACTING PARTY will provide:
- Performance venue. The most effective location is the worship space, to include the altar, when a church location is being utilized.
- Furniture set pieces: (a desk, chair, larger armchair, table or altar)
- A pre-tested, fully operational sound system for use in the performance.
- A single, designated representative to serve as the on-site contact for technical and any other logistical and performance matters.
- A private and secure dressing room area, to include a washroom with sink and a mirror for use by the Actor.
- Full, unobstructed access to the performance area 60 minutes prior and 30 minutes after the performance time for set-up and breakdown of set.
Marketing is the key element to a successful event. It is critical to let everyone know about the show well in advance of the performance date. Suggested lead-time to begin the marketing campaign is a minimum of 8 weeks out.
The most available means to communicate with the potential audience is by maximizing the publicity by using church and school bulletins, placing flyers throughout the neighborhood, prominently placing posters in local shop windows, and announcements, listings and stories in local area publications and through the most effective means of communication, word of mouth to create excitement. Tickets should be conveniently and clearly available for purchase on-line, after every church service, by phone order and in-person at a designated location, as well as at the door on the performance date.
Tips for a Successful Fundraising Event
The success of the Damien Play as a fundraising event will come as a result of surrounding the evening of the performance with other activities that will generate revenue for the group. A cash bar, catered meal, potluck dinner, a gourmet coffee bar and a dessert table have all proven to be very effective.
Since the optimal performance area is the worship space, most parishes will choose to stage the food and beverage service in the parish hall or in an adjoining space. A 7:30pm Saturday evening performance (after the 5:00pm Mass or Worship Service) is an excellent model that has proven to work very well. (Performance dates are not restricted to Saturdays. Weeknights and Sunday afternoons have also proven to be successful. The selected date must be agreed upon at the time of entering into a formal performance agreement).
The option to hold a door prize raffle, a live or silent auction as part of the event is also available for the host group. The most successful fundraising events will always keep a clear focus on their objective… to raise funds! It is a proven fact that the more the community is involved, the better the results.
Local restaurants can show support by donating dinner gift certificates. Area businesses can offer a free service, (Car Wash, Dry Cleaning, Spa treatment, etc.) or other items. A list of contributing sponsors and names of individual supporters may easily be printed by the venue and inserted as a FSI (free-standing insert) in each theatrical program.
All of the above details are clearly spelled out in the final performance agreement.
Suggested ticket prices for Damien are recommended to be in the $20 to $35 range, however, it will up to the discretion of the group to decide on the price point, based on what the audience, parishioners, or residents of the area may afford. The objective is to fill all of the seats, not just a few. The venue and its designated representatives are solely responsible for the sale and distribution of tickets, the collection of monies, marketing and the operation of the box office and payment of professional performance fee.
WPM PRODUCTIONS, INC. shall be provided with six (6) complimentary tickets for each performance to be held in the name or names provided at Will Call or at the designated Reception Table.
Fee: $2,500 (all-inclusive)
A deposit of $1,500 is due at the time the signed contract is returned.
The balance of ($1,000) is due on or before the day of the performance.