November 21, 2005

Adventist News 2

British Soap Opera Engages Youth, Offers Hope

BY WENDI ROGERS, Adventist News Network correspondent

t One Hope Street in England, one finds a house of drama, a house filled with love, hate, anger, sadness, betrayal and, most importantly, hope. The cast is made up of a large, multi-cultural family who lost their foster parents and are now left to deal with life on their own.

The drama "One Hope Street," produced by Carmel Greystone production company in England, aims to deliver messages to young people in their language: messages about premarital sex, drugs, respect for women, and that Jesus makes a positive difference in one's life.

Jayce takes advantage of women, leaving them when he's done with them, while his 14-year-old sister discovers she is pregnant by her so-called boyfriend who leaves her. Marvin battles his head knowledge that one should treat others the way Christ would, but his intense feelings of violence toward Jayce, who's taken advantage of his friend, Diane, fight to take control.

One Hope Street chronicles the lives of a multicultural foster family facing issues of loss, love and hopelessness.

"One Hope Street" is a "character-driven drama that looks at the lives of everyday Christian youth as they struggle to find their place in the family, society, the church and the world," says producer and director of the film, Mark Grey of Carmel Greystone.

The production gives young people a voice in a venue they are excited about, Grey says. The drama was his brainstorm. "Having worked extensively with Christian youth in drama, I was aware that there were many issues that they were experiencing, that they were dealing with as part of everyday teenage life, that was not being given a forum for discussion or explanation," he explains.

Grey says that in scouting Christian bookshops he found nothing in the DVD/video section that would challenge teenagers and adults. "The youth I was coming across, though not ashamed of their faith, were not particularly proud of it. They wanted something that they could get behind, get excited about, tell their non-Christian friends about.

"They can claim ownership," he adds.

"The strength of 'One Hope Street' is the fact that it is in the style of a soap opera, which is so popular with various age groups today," says Don McFarlane, Global Mission and Stewardship director for the Trans-European Division, and a production supporter. "It is also generally true to life. I hope that the church can back Mark Grey in funding a series."

Eleven-year-old Angelina Williams was an actress in the film. "One Hope Street gave me the chance to witness to others and tell people that even if you are being bullied [like my character was] you have somewhere to turn to -- God," she says. "I am glad that things like compassion are mentioned in the film."

"One Hope Street" did not use professional actors, Grey says. Rather, it was an open invitation to the church to use whoever was interested. There are people from age 7 to age 47 in the drama.

The pilot show is available for purchase in the United Kingdom, and Grey hopes to produce a series. "It was designed that way in order to introduce the characters to the audience, and hopefully revisit them in subsequent episodes where particular issues are being explored in more detail."

One Hope Street aired at the New York Film Festival on November 15.