WESTMINSTER — Dona Sauter's struggle to understand why God would seemingly give some people more than others is brought to life in her play, "A Sound in the Wind."
The modern retelling of the parable of the talents will be presented at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at New Life Foursquare Church in the Westminster High auditorium.
"I have always been intrigued by parables in the Bible," said Sauter, the play's author. "The parable of the talents is hard to understand, since it looks at the way life seems to be inequitable for certain people.
"This is my attempt to understand it, and to help other people understand it."
Sauter said a personal incident led her to write the play but refused to elaborate.
"Whenever an artist creates something that's truly art, it contains something personal," shesaid.
The story, presented to help describe what the kingdom of heaven is like, tells of a man who gave different numbers of talents -- pieces of money -- to three of his servants.
One servant received five, another two and the third got one piece of money. The first two invested theirs, doubled their money and were blessed. The third buried his out of fear and was ordered to give it to the first servant.
"I changed (the story) in ways that I thought were OK to change," said Sauter of Woodstock, Baltimore County. "I explore what might have happened if the servant had not buried (his gift)."
In Sauter's story, each servant is given a box with a tune in it. One -- playedby Sauter -- receives a crude wooden box with a simple folk melody played on a dulcimer. The others receive increasingly elaborate boxes and arrangements of the same tune; the third receives the compositionplayed on dulcimer, bongos, guitar and keyboard.
Carol Davis of Westminster plays the servant with the middle-sized box, and Tricia Duke of Westminster plays the servant who gets the large box.
"I wanted to use a folk melody that nobody would recognize but that people would be attracted to easily," Sauter said. "I used the same tune each time so people could see the gifts were similar but different."
Initially, each servant is pleased with her gift. But after seeing what the other two received, Sauter's character becomes angry and starts to throw it away. Only through the intervention of the narrator -- played by co-director Don Mullins of Westminster -- does she considerkeeping it.
"There is a subtle twist to the play," Sauter said. "She realizes in the course of conversation that the problem is not inwhat the king gave her, but how she saw the king in the first place.
"She didn't believe that the king had her best interests at heart."
The king -- originally played by Travis Haines of Reisterstown,Baltimore County who is leaving for dance school -- is portrayed by Vinny Lovegrove -- a sculptor in residence with the Open Space Arts Organization in Reisterstown.
Cast members said the play is applicable to modern society, since many people suffer from low self-esteem and are jealous of one other's material possessions.
But competition prevents people from expressing their unique qualities and the spiritual gifts God has given them, they said.
"It's not the substance of the gift, it's the essence of it," said Davis, referring to a line in the play. "We're to do the best with what God has given us, find joy in that and not compare them. We should be proud of the gifts God has given us and not hide them."
A previous performance at Carroll Community Church in Eldersburg was well-received because people could relate to the characters on many different levels, cast members said.
"People would come in and find themselves caught up in the spirit and personally identify with the three servants," Duke said. "We received a standing ovation, but we should judge the quality of thereception on the tears that flowed, and there was a lot of sniffling."
Admission to Sunday's show is free, but a free-will offering will be taken to help pay for Mullins' expenses to teach mime at a Christian arts festival in Germany.