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Connected by search for meaning – Viktor and Stan

Victor Frankl is one of the great psychiatrists of the twentieth century. He survived the death camps of Nazi Germany. His little book, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ is ‘one of those life changing books that everyone should read.
 |  Stan Stewart  |  ,

The book has many reviews and this is the most recent to come my way. The book has never been out of print. It has sold over seven million copies. It is in stock now at Whitianga Paper Plus).

In 1970, I was a Minister in an outer suburb parish in Melbourne, Australia. Reluctantly at first, I read this slim book on the Holocaust, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. It knocked me off my perch. It shook me up. One sixty-page chapter challenged me, amazed me and shone a light deep into my soul. I wanted everyone to read this book.

I purchased five copies of the book and raved about the book and then gave the five copies to people in my congregation. Nothing happened. No one commented. After a month, I realised what the problem was. Most people don’t read.  I was desperate to share the insights that inspired me but how? Then it came to me. I am a playwright. ‘Write a play, Stan based on the long chapter,’ was my message to myself.  And I did. After the first performance, a high court judge whom I had never met before, said to me, “Many people should see this play and it should be a must for every young person.”

Then I grew nervous. Clearly my play worked but had I done something illegal? I had written a play on a best-selling, copyrighted book without asking permission. “I might be sued?” I did not dare to stage anymore performances.

The only solution I could think of was to send the play to Viktor Frankyl, the Author of the book. Not an easy thing to do. However, I sent it to his publisher. A month or so after my posting the play, a handwritten envelope arrived from Austria. It enclosed a letter from Victor Frankly to me. Relief. He wasn’t mad at me. He did not want to sue me. He loved the play. In fact, he had already used parts of it in some of his town hall presentations. (As Eckhart Tolle is doing now, Viktor Frankyl toured the world giving town Hall presentations).  He had used parts of my play in some of these town hall presentations.

He asked in his letter, could we co-publish the plays. His suggestion floored me. I was next to penniless, and it seemed to me that such an undertaking would cost a great deal of money and not really work well with my vocation. I declined his offer and assured him he could keep using parts of the play in his lectures. Some years after that, I heard that Victor Frankl had died.  He was a great man. I have occasionally produced the play as an acted reading. I intend to do this in Whitianga.

To find 23 men who will memorize lines is in my experience impossible. Consequently, I produce it as an acted reading. Cast members read their lines off paper or pads or phones. The setting is dramatic and intermittent recorded classical music helps. The audience are seated close to the action.

 The Mercury Bar Area School Hall has been booked for two performances on Saturday, February 24 and Sunday, 25. Now, I have to find twenty-three men and one woman for the cast and a small team to help with staging and production. Most of the players have only a couple of paragraphs of dialogue. No previous acing experience is required. Older players are fine. The one exception is the part that is for a young woman who does need to be a younger woman. 

Any offers? Contact me 021 362 489 or drop into the Informer Office, 12 Monk Street. From 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday. I believe that anyone who participates in this performance will be impacted in a positive way. There will be a small number of rehearsals – one in the hall. If you would like to be part of this dramatic adventure which will be of help to all the participants and the audience, don’t hesitate.  It is not religious. 

 Let’s do this! It could be the start of something good. 

Caption: Viktor Frankl.