Hesston College will ring in the 2017 holiday season a little early, hosting a special production of "Just Give 'Em the News" at Hesston Mennonite Church this weekend. Though the Christmas season is an integral part of the play, there is a deeper meaning to the material that led Hesston College to schedule a showing months in advance of the actual holiday.

Given the message at the center of the play, Hesston College staff believed it would fit in well as part of this weekend's Anabaptist Vision and Discipleship Series conferences. With Advent being a focal part of the play, Director of Alumni and Church Relations Dallas Stutzman believes it ties in well with the conference's theme of trauma awareness and resilience.

"In trauma situations, you're moving from the dark part of when that happened to light and to moving forward," Stutzman said, "and the Christmas story also very much reflects that, so it ties together that way."

Staging the show this weekend will be Ted and Company TheaterWorks, a group with which Director of Marketing and Communications Rachel McMaster noted the college has a long history, having hosted previous shows on campus and in the area.

With the conference addressing "When the Unthinkable Happens," specifically the difficulty and pain of dealing with trauma in its many forms in the community, both McMaster and Stutzman believed that along with sticking to the overall theme, the play would also be a lighter approach to addressing some of those topics.

"So much of what will be going on this weekend is pretty heavy content," McMaster said, "...but this play is a way that shows the lighter side of dealing with trauma, that shows that humor and laughter can also play into that and I think that's an important balance."

"One of the ways to be resilient is actually, as a community of persons, to laugh together, to find humor," Stutzman said.

Actors Ted Swartz and Jeff Raught will present their musical, slightly askew take on Christmas at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18, blending original songs, piano and comedic theater into their show.

Conference attendees will be admitted to the show for free as part of their weekend registration, while tickets will be available for $12 at the door and Hesston College Bookstore for adults not attending the conference. High school students and younger will be admitted for free.

Putting on a play is something that McMaster hopes will present a different angle to the conference's goal of dealing with trauma and resiliency, which will be discussed in numerous seminars over the weekend and a training session (fully booked) the following Monday. Given the show's broad appeal, she said she hopes to draw as wide an audience as possible on Saturday. Stutzman seconded that and noted he is hoping the conference will be well-attended overall.

""We're really pleased that we can offer this kind of an event, and the play within that, to persons in south central Kansas," Stutzman said. "Trauma is something that we all deal with in our lives, individually and within different organizations and companies that we work in, so to offer that I think continues to find ways to find healing and hope within those difficult situations that happen."

To find out more about the play or register for the weekend conference, visit www.hesston.edu/avds.