“INTERRUPTING THE SERMON,”
From Pulpit to Stage
CRANSTON, Rhode Island (July 28, 2014) “Interrupting the Sermon,” a gentle story-play
about the evolution of a theologically conservative kid from the Midwest into an intellectually
progressive religious thinker over the course of a 50-year career as a minister and educator, will
be performed Sept. 4-7, 2014 at the Empire Black Box in Providence. The public is warmly
invited to these free performances.
“Interrupting the Sermon” is the first fully mounted production of First Hand Theatrical, a
company Olson founded to present original theater productions based mainly on primary source
material drawn from diverse cultural, personal and social histories.
The play is directed by Kevin Olson of Cranston and chronicles the professional life of his late
father, Dr. Wayne C. Olson. Kevin Olson was moved to create the play after hearing his father,
then in retirement in rural Vermont, deliver a deeply moving sermon in 2010 as a guest preacher
titled, “My Bible: Then and Now.” Dr. Olson at the same time was writing a collection of stories
about his years as a pastor and college professor.
Kevin Olson searched through his father’s memoir vignettes and selected stories that best
illuminated the words of the sermon that anchor the play. Among them:
* A decision Dr. Olson later regretted to back out of delivering the invocation at a 1961
anti-nuclear rally in Woodstock, N.Y., the small town where he led his first church.
* Getting fired from a church in Passaic, N.J., after inviting teenagers in the congregation
to help him deliver a sermon.
* Baptizing a young man in Indiana who was about to die of AIDS during the early years
“I created the play using words that are primarily his. The sermon and the stories intersect
thematically in ways that illustrate my father’s spiritual journey over 50 years of preaching and
teaching. The play is structured like a church service and also includes some of my Dad’s poetry
as well as original music.” Kevin Olson said.