Christianity off-off broadway

Reading this NYT article about 2 off-off broadway plays, Faith Confronted, and Defended, Downtown, makes me all the more want to be an urbanite in The City, as cruel a place as it is for the faithful, once in a while it does make room for an honest look at the complex intricacies of faith:

… “Church,” written and directed by Young Jean Lee, is being performed until next Saturday. It’s an unorthodox contemporary worship service, complete with sermon, praise dancing and a gospel choir. The playwright and director Lear DeBessonet upends Brecht’s “St. Joan of the Stockyards” in a revival that begins June 15, transplanting the dark Joan of Arc story to 1920s Chicago, with bluegrass music by the singer Kelley McRae and handouts of warm bread. …

Lee: The premise that all of my shows begin with is, I ask myself the question, “What is the last show in the world that you would ever want to make?” Then I force myself to make that show. My whole aesthetic is about fighting complacency. So if I make a show that goes against my instincts of what I want to do, that creates a very tense and complicated dynamic. For “Church” the last show in the world I would ever want to do was an evangelical Christian service that’s sincerely trying to convert the audience to Christianity, and that’s not ironic or a joke or making fun of Christianity at all. …

DeBessonet: I think the downtown artistic community is realizing we don’t really have the option of dismissing [evangelical Christianity] anymore. This is a force in our world. There are so many millions of people that do believe this, and for us not to even attempt to engage them or understand what’s driving them seems irresponsible artistically.

Listen to audio interviews and photos of Lee and DeBessonet at: Faith Lost and Found

Village Voice describes Lee’s play as:

Neither an invitation to bask in God’s love nor a parody of religious practice, this thorny play, says Lee, is designed “to target myself and my own demographic. If the preacher were to rail against homosexuality, everyone would just laugh, but if he rails against spending too much money on eating out, then everyone is guilty.”

(also see The Brooklyn Rail’s review and Jeff Jones’ review) [update 5/11/07] NYT review on “Church” – Confronting Questions of Faith With a Few New Responses [ht: Eugene Cho]

Church runs through May 12th at PS122. Brecht’s “St. Joan of the Stockyards” runs at PS122 from June 15 to July 1.

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  1. Jeremy says:

    Thanks for the link. Lear is a friend and has volunteered as a drama instructor/director at Generation Xcel. She’s an incredible artist and an even better person.