Posts Tagged 'passion play'

Playing God!

Right – no more travel and anthropology for a bit. Perhaps my blogging would be more successful if I stuck to one theme, instead of jumping around all over the place. Anyway, here are some thoughts on a very different topic:

I have just returned from a short tour, performing the role of God the Father in a modern passion play. It took the form of a series of conversations between the Father and the Son, leading up to the climax on Golgotha and then the first Easter. We played it as rehearsed readings, mainly in churches but, on one memorable afternoon, to some of the inmates of a high-security prison.

Although I was raised in the Christian tradition, I am not myself a believer, and I approached the role as an actor, concerned to portray the part that the author had written with as much truth and sincerity as I could muster. I did not feel (and, as it happened, nor did the author) that it was necessary for me to be a practicing Christian in order to participate – any more than one would need to be an actual murderer to play, say, Macbeth.

And the play worked, very powerfully. There is an almost tangible silence that an actor can feel when an audience is totally engrossed and listening hard, and we felt it, every time. And the silence at the end was more telling than any amount of polite applause. In discussion afterwards it was clear that the audiences had gained new insights – above all into the essential humanity of Jesus as he wrestled with his doubts and fears.

So – it was a rewarding experience for me, as an actor; and  – who knows? – it may well have been my last role. Few actors know when, or whether, the next job will materialize, and at my age the future is even less certain. Still, if it does prove to be my last, I have at least finished on a high! Time to come back to earth now . . .

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