October 6, 1995
Web posted at: 7:00 a.m. EDT
From Correspondent Jill Brooke
NEW YORK (CNN) -- John Paul II performs mass to sold-out audiences and has billions of fans from around the world. But there is a reason that the pope plays so well on the world stage. After all, he was an actor and playwright first.
One of his plays, "The Jeweler's Shop," was performed at Carnegie Hall and will be touring the United States.
Written in 1960 under his worldly name Carl Wojtyla, the three-act play explores the relationships of three couples. From his early writing, the pope's deep-rooted spirituality is evident. One of the lines reads, "The day of our wedding you will emerge a human being ripe for pain and human happiness."
All three couples are encouraged to place their trust in the metaphorical jeweler, whose wisdom will lead them on the best course in life.
Those who remember the pope from Poland when he was a playwright and actor are not surprised that he became the world's biggest superstar. "We always thought he'd be an actor, an excellent actor, because he has such individuality," a friend says.
Even in theater days, he acted on his strong moral convictions and would not let his acting group be bullied. He organized an underground theater during Nazism.
After deciding to become a priest, Wojtyla gave up acting. But many believe the skills help him in spreading the gospel. "He is very talented," says Polish artistic director Eric Winquze. "He founded the most important theater in Poland, called the Rapse Theater. He was (a) playwright and poet."
His speaking abilities often help sell a conservative agenda, just like another actor who became a world leader, Ronald Reagan. Michael Cascio, A&E's executive producer, says the two men have a lot in common. "It's not unlike Ronald Reagan in his presidency. He had a savvy media image, and was able to get across an agenda that, at the time, people didn't like. Because he is so popular, he is able to keep people from bolting."
The pope's message today is not much different than 40 years ago, when he wrote in "The Jeweler's Shop:" "Love is one of the greatest dramas of human existence, and our future depends on love."
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