Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Trouble with Jesus: Dramaturgy & the Prince of Peace

I have nothing against writing plays about Jesus, I'm just saying they won't work, unless the play is all about Jesus. It can't be about human stuff. Unless your Jesus is the non-god version. But that leads to other problems.

If you have a play with a god in it, it changes things. Just ask the Greeks - they used to have their plays end with the deus ex machina (God in a machine) - they actually had an actor in a contraption to make them look god-like. The god would make everything come out alright in the end. Nowadays deus ex machina is not considered a satisfying method of ending a play. Although even Shakespeare pulled that one, in As You Like It. But Shakespeare always gets some slack of which contemporary writers are not cut.

Lately my writers group has been plagued by plays about prostitutes and plays containing Jesus. I have problems with the prostitute plays too but that's another essay.

The authors of the Jesus plays insist on writing what they consider realistic stories about humans that just happen to have Jesus in it. This flat out does not work, because even though many of the writers are not devout Christians, their view of Jesus comes directly from the Bible. And the Bible considers Jesus a god. That throws everything off. That's like writing a kitchen-sink drama and one of the characters reveals that the wise teacher in her school is in fact Superman. There is no way that the play cannot become about Superman. Ain't nobody care about yo kitchen sink when Kal-El from Krypton is in town. (Kal and Jesus were both sent to Earth by their fathers - did you ever notice that? For an even better connection between God and superheroes, see Tom the Dancing Bug's God-Man series.

The Trouble with Jesus essay continued here