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Theatre UCF’s production of Pentecost paints cultural diversity in new light

photoTheatre UCF presents Pentecost, a production that finds religious, political and scholarly individuals going head-to-head for claim of a newly discovered fresco on a nondescript church ceiling in Eastern Europe. The various groups battle over the validity and possible historical significance of the fresco until twelve refugees storm the church and hold it hostage for asylum. The explosive drama touches on the value of cultural diversity in topical ways. Pentecost will open on Thursday, January 25 and run through Sunday, February 4 in the Theatre UCF Main Stage.

Christopher Niess, associate professor of Acting and Stage Movement at the University of Central Florida School of Performing Arts and director of Pentecost, chose to direct this piece because of its relevance to society today.

“Julia Listengarten, who is the Artistic Director of Theatre UCF, has selected a strong slate of plays that are very relevant not just to the student body, but the university community at large,” said Niess. “It is important that we get to work on contemporary plays that speak to our current culture.”

Niess is letting the cultural issues found within the subject matter of the play speak for itself.

“We are talking a lot now about what it means to be foreigner, or a native, or a refugee, and where our opinions are for all those different groups, and how we are going to address that as a country,” he said.

Ana Martinez, a graduate student and actor in Pentecost, discusses the reaction she’d like to see from audience members.

“It raises a lot of questions about nationalism and pride and what it means to make borders for ourselves,” explains Martinez. “I am really excited to get an audience in there and get them asking these questions themselves.”

Pentecost is part of an interdepartmental collaboration called the NEA Big Read at UCF. An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read “broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.” UCF is one of 75 nonprofit organizations to receive an NEA Big Read grant to host a community reading. Other events include an art exhibition in the UCF Art Gallery, book clubs with Seminole Public Library, lectures, artist talks and book signing of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, the debut novel of African journalist and MacArthur Foundation Fellow Dinaw Mengestu. Woven throughout these events is the goal of revitalizing reading and creative cultural endeavors as shared community initiatives.

On opening night January 25, audience members are invited to join the cast and creative team for a post-show reception.

Additionally, the public are invited for a post-show talkback on Saturday, January 27 at 10 p.m. with Niess and Margaret Zaho, UCF faculty specializing in Italian Renaissance Fresco Cycles.

Tickets are available for $20 for the general public and $10 for those with a valid UCF ID. They can be purchased online at or at the box office.

For more information about Theatre UCF and the UCF School of Performing Arts, visit

Production-at a-Glance:
Written by David Edgar
Directed by Christopher Niess
January 25, 26, 27 and February 1, 2, 3 at 7:30 p.m.
January 28 and February 4 at 2 p.m.
A post-show reception will immediately follow the January 25 performance.
A post-show talk-back with the director and a UCF faculty specializing in Italian Renaissance Fresco Cycles will immediately follow the January 27 performance.
A fresco that could revolutionize Western Art is unearthed in an abandoned church in Eastern Europe. The discovery causes a dramatic struggle as representatives from the worlds of art history, religion, and politics stake their claims for the ultimate prize. The unexpected arrival of twelve refugees sets events spiraling toward an explosive climax.
This show is rated R based on the rating system for movies.
$20 standard, $10 UCF ID
Main Stage, 4000 Central Florida Blvd., Orlando

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