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Production designed to transform marriages

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For generations, people of nearly all cultures have celebrated the beauty of a couple declaring a lifetime of devotion for each other.

However, the outlook of many of today’s marriages doesn’t look pretty.

Most statistics estimate the national divorce rate at between 45 and 50 percent. The U.S. Census Bureau has reported that 46 percent of all marriages involve a remarriage for one or both spouses.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the number of Americans getting married has declined (from 2,315,000 marriages in 2000, to 2,197,000 in 2007), although the U.S. population is increasing.

“So many marriages are falling apart because of little things and disagreements over how something is done,” said Angela K. Baldwin, manager of Hope Productions. “The marriage rate is down, the divorce rate is still high and children are caught in the crossfire.”

Baldwin’s company hopes its new production, “A House Divided Cannot Stand,” will help fight the trend of collapsing marriages.

The gospel play will be presented for the first time in Indianapolis next week with two shows on Nov. 20 at the Madame Walker Theatre. The first showing at 2 p.m. will be geared toward youth and family, while the second installment, starting at 6:30 p.m., is themed “Date Night at the Walker.”

“A House Divided Cannot Stand” has been described as the gripping story of a husband and wife who overcome past mistakes and present challenges to build a stronger marriage. Viewers will see how decisions made before and after the couple’s wedding day, along with perceived infidelity, hopelessness, and lack of trust and communication affect the marriage.

“We want to show that marriages can survive any challenge, aside from major abuse,” Baldwin said. “Through faith, communication and trust marriages can be restored.”

“A House Divided Cannot Stand” is the second major production released by Illinois-based HOPE Productions, a growing Christian theater company owned by Baldwin and her husband, Reginald. The company is also known for its acclaimed stage success “Fallen From Grace,” which dealt with domestic violence, drug addiction, peer pressure and abuse.

To present the play, HOPE Productions is teaming up with the Indiana Healthy Marriage and Family Coalition (IHMFC), an organization that promotes the value of healthy marriages and offers programs to couples and families.

After both shows next Saturday, the IHMFC will facilitate a 30-minute marriage discussion that will encourage participation and dialogue from the audience.

“We have a valuable partnership that will result in ongoing events and activities that will help our community fight for an institution that is under fire,” said Sabrina Gill, a family life coordinator for the IHMFC, who has seen the play. “When we build stronger marriages, we build strong families, and when we build stronger families, we have stronger communities.”

Lesley Barbré, a theater actress who has appeared in both “Fallen From Grace” and “A House Divided Cannot Stand,” said she has enjoyed participating in productions that have helped change lives.

““We hope everyone comes out and is blessed by a positive message that could make the difference during a pivotal time in their marriage,” said Barbré, who portrays the wife Diane, one of the leading characters.

When Willa Lattimore-Turman saw the production with her husband, they had reached a rough spot in their marriage, and refused to even sit with each other at the show’s beginning.

“But during a scene where the couple began to understand each other, tears came to my eyes, and my husband sat next to me and hugged me,” she said. “It was very powerful and phenomenal.”

Keep your marriage standing

What: “A House Divided Cannot Stand”

When: Saturday, Nov. 20 at 2 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.

Where: Madame Walker Theatre Center, 617 Indiana Ave.

Admission: $18 in advance for 2 p.m., $25 for the later show with discounts offered to groups of 20 or more. Tickets can be purchased at the Walker box office, by calling (317) 236-2099 or by visiting www.ihmfc.org or www.hopeproductions2.com. Proceeds will help benefit programs by the Indiana Healthy Marriage and Family Coalition.

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