Every year my church puts on the Lafayette Passion Play. We rent out a theater downtown and perform the three nights before Easter Sunday. Â It is a major undertaking, requiring more than a hundred people to pull it off every night. This is the twentieth year the church has presented the play. Â A version of the play will generally be performed for three years, and then a new version is done. Â This is the first year for this new version.
The general method is to present the Biblical story with a modern-day frame story to present it. Â In past years the frame story has been set in a college dormroom, an office breakroom, and even a tour of the Holy Land. Â This year the “modern” part is set in the late 1940’s, with a town presenting their own Passion Play. Â The set is built on a revolving stage, so the audience will see the backstage of that town’s play, with that town’s actors interacting while also presenting their Passion Play. Â I may be too close to it, but I think it’s a really neat idea, and some of the scene changes I’ve seen are really cool.
I tend to subject my acting to the same overly-harsh criticisms I subject pretty much any acting to, so while I don’t really feel I’m well-suited to the job, it is something I like to do, and being willing is half the battle, I guess. Â When I tried out, it was just a general try-out, not for any specific part. Â Later that week, the director contacted me about whether or not I’d be interested in playing the part of the the actor who plays Jesus. Â I eventually agreed, but I felt very strange about it.
The whole process has continued to be strange, and not just because I’ve been letting my beard and hair grow out. Â I’m very familiar with the life and teachings of Jesus, but to take those things on as a role puts it in a different light for me. Â I’ve always been concerned about what He said, but now I’ve been looking at how and why as well, and it’s been very interesting for me. Â During this same time, I’ve also been reading through A Harmony of the Gospels, which presents the first four books of the New Testament side-by-side and in chronological order. That has helped me to see things I hadn’t before, and given me a better overall view of the life of Christ.
The most stressful part of the process for me has been memorizing lines. Â I’m not as young as I once was, and the memorization isn’t as easy as it used to be! Â On top of that, the lines I say as Jesus come directly from the Bible, and … well, let’s just say I don’t want to be putting words into Jesus’s mouth that He didn’t say!
The play is this week, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. Â It is a good lead-in to Easter Sunday, a reminder of what we celebrate. Â This week is a lot of work, but it will ultimately be worth it.
If you follow me on Twitter or are a friend on Facebook, you’ve already seen me post this. Â This is the commercial we made to promote the Passion Play, and it is airing on our local channel this week.
If you’re in the area, I invite you to come see the play. Â Tickets are free and are available for reserve by calling the church at 765.448.1986. If you come, make sure to say hi after the play!