Can any works of lasting value come from the film or theater industries these days? Some critics might answer that question with a resounding no! Indeed, many have. But have they heard of the New Harmony Project?

It is eight o’clock on a cool, spring morning in the former utopian community of New Harmony in southwest Indiana. In the early 1800s, people flocked here to be a part of an experimental, harmonic society. Today a company of artists is seeking its own harmony: that of truth with theater. For over two weeks, almost 80 actors, writers, directors, and others have been putting in ten-hour days producing a film and rehearsing three plays.

But time is running out. The group now has less than two days before this annual 17-day theater and film workshop culminates with final play readings and a movie premiere—and their work is far from over.

But that does not seem to bother the handful who are heading to daily worship in the small, cylindrical Waddam’s Chapel. What happens in this chapel on a small scale is but a taste of what happens at the New Harmony Project on a much larger one.

Like most of the interiors around the 175-year-old town, the chapel is stark. It contains a few Shaker chairs and some pads for kneeling, offering small glimpses of the town’s past.

Attendance is at 20, a bit higher than usual. The group begins by singing “Be Thou My Vision,” “Psalm 5,” and a few other songs. Then author Walter Wangerin, one of the project’s directors, reads from Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians: “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a ‘fool’ so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”

He speaks of performers’ ...

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