On Thursday 18 May, Carnivale Christi will open in Melbourne's St Patrick's Cathedral and the night after, in Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral. For the first time, Carnivale Christi will be simultaneously staged in two cities.
With the theme "let everything praise thee" Carnivale Christi seeks to highlight the connection between faith and culture by offering a program of film, visual arts, drama, music, food, liturgy and sport as an opportunity to "Seek the Face of Christ."
The Carnivale Christi 2006 program, which will run for a week in Melbourne and a fortnight in Sydney, will include a new production of William Nicholson's play on the life of C.S. Lewis, Shadowlands.
Also included are premieres of films on World Youth Day Cologne and St Thérèse of Lisieux, the visual arts program Works of Praise, forums on the soon to be released Da Vinci Code movie and an entire YouthFest program including talks, bands and Praise by Night.
From Friday to Sunday 19- 21 May, the cathedrals of both Melbourne and Sydney will be open for 40 Hours Adoration as the spiritual core of the celebration. In both cities, the festival will culminate with the Festival Mass on Sunday, 21 May.
Carnivale Christi National Director, Anthony McCarthy, says, "Leading up to World Youth Day [2008 in Sydney] our aim is to be able to take Carnivale Christi to five cities across Australia with plays, musicals, concerts, art exhibitions, expos, films, sporting contests and forums with both local and overseas speakers all playing a part."
Melbourne's Carnivale Christi will be previewed with the exhibition Works of Praise: Crisis, Catharsis & Contemplation which will be exhibited at St Patrick's Cathedral from 28 April to 18 May when the Carnivale Christi itself will open.
Crisis, Catharsis & Contemplation is an exhibition of works by 16 contemporary Australian artists which will be installed in both St Patrick's Cathedral and St Mary's Cathedral. Works exhibited use video projections, light and sound installations, paintings, sculptures and drawings to explore faith and share their experience of God.
Crisis, Catharsis & Contemplation is one of two components in Carnivale's Christi's visual arts program, Works of Praise. The other component is a school art competition on the theme of the Last Supper.
The exhibition addresses the apparent disconnection between contemporary culture and a sense of the spiritual, with the relationship between the Church and the visual arts strained over the last few decades and few contemporary artists engaging or being engaged in conversation.
Sydney's Carnivale Christi will open on Friday 19 May with a performance of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater.
In Sydney the program has also been expanded by the amalgamation of Carnivale Christi and the Festival of Faith which promises to draw a further 10,000 people to the festival.
The Festival of Faith on Sunday 21 May will involve 80 stall holders plus additional groups and movements. With the colourful stalls, talks program, bands, dance, a multicultural food fest Carnivale of Foods and the Archbishop's Cup Indoor Soccer Competition, some 10,000 people are expected to pass through the Cathedral site.
In Sydney, the launch of the three day program, Carnivale YouthFest will also allow for deeper reflection and involvement for young people aged 14-35. The YouthFest will include the Stabat Mater, a World Youth Day 2008 Forum, the launch of the World Youth Day 2005 documentary and Praise by Night - a concert of the best of contemporary Catholic music.
Sunday morning 21 May commences with the Festival Mass in Sydney and Melbourne with the Cathedral choirs singing alongside a massed choir brought together from across the two cities. Individual singers, parish choirs and schools groups will all be welcome to join in.
Carnivale Christi will next launch the inaugural Easter Forums on the Da Vinci Code movie, Christianity Today, and Narnia: Faith of Fiction. These will be offered in Melbourne and Sydney.
Also premiering is a new production Saints Alive! especially written for Carnivale Christi by Donald Macdonald. Donald describes Saints Alive! as "an entertainment based on the stories and legends of the Saints. It is a piece for three actors - no sets, no costumes, just the actors and the audience: funny stories, and monologues - an evening in the company of your favorite Saints."
To cap it all off is a brand new production of William Nicholson's play on the life of C.S. Lewis, Shadowlands, concerning the unlikely, life-changing love story between English don C.S. Lewis and American poet Joy Gresham.
When asked about the play's popularity and what it has to say to a contemporary audience, Donald responds, "Shadowlands is about suffering - its theme is that if we accept suffering as God's teaching, we will grow as he wants us to."
Connected with this theme of suffering, love and charity is the launch of the inaugural Festival Charity - the St Vincent de Paul Winter Appeal. Volunteers will be collecting Winter Appeal donations at all festival events in the two cities and donation envelopes will be on every seat.
Faith, works and culture can therefore coexist, or so Carnivale Christi testifies. But perhaps the slogan of this year's festival puts it a bit more succinctly, "Imagine if the Truth was a Person."
To join the Festival choir contact Khalil Elias (Sydney) 0414-444-022 or Rebecca Stewart (Melbourne) 0418-121-149. For more information on Carnivale Christi contact Colin Lee on 0438-438-565, or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.carnivalechristi.org.au