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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Solitary Refinement to be performed at Harrow Baptist Church

Photo credit: West Laing.

by Sylene Argent

On Saturday, January 26, beginning at 7 p.m., Harrow Baptist Church will welcome the Voice of the Martyrs play production of “Solitary Refinement.”

  The Voice of the Martyrs is sponsoring the play, “Solitary Refinement,” which is being seen across the nation. It includes true stories of author Richard Wurmbrand, and others, and addresses Christian persecution around the world.

  From within a prison cell, Toronto-based actor Dennis Hassell portrays Wurmbrand and eight other characters on stage in this one-man-show, as he shares stories of persecution.

  In the play, the audience is immersed into the prison environment, Hassell said. This is accomplished by using 360-degree sound and multiple projectors on stage. He wants the audience members to think about what they would do if they were imprisoned for their beliefs.

  Wurmbrand was imprisoned and tortured for 14 years in communist Romania for his beliefs. According to Wikipedia, in 1948 he publicly said Communism and Christianity were not compatible. Over two of those years were spent in a cell for the dying as he had tuberculosis, Hassell said. “How can someone come out smiling?” he asked.

  Even though the topic of persecution and imprisonment is heavy, Hassell said the play offers a joy that is redemptive.  

  Being involved with this play has made Hassell wake up to what is going on around the world, he said.

  Hassell said he got involved with this production early on. He remembers having lunch with an old friend a few years back and had been asked if the book, “Tortured for Christ” could become a play. Hassell thought that would be difficult as the timeline was not linear as it took place in a prison. He did believe, however, it was an incredible story of conflict.

  So, he got involved with the writing process, and noted it was exhausting just to read the background information. This developed into a pilot project, that was performed seven times in 2017.

  “The feedback was so strong, we decided to do it nation-wide,” he said.

At the end of the play, Hassell shows current stories of persecution in general. Hassell noted because of the content of the play and its visual and audio support, it is not for children under the age of 12.

  Everyone is welcome to experience this play in Harrow, free of charge, however, donations will be accepted to help cover the touring expenses.

    So far, the play has been performed all over Canada around 85 times, with more performances scheduled in the future, including in Newfoundland.

  For more information about the play, log onto

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