Encounter the passion story as you never have before. Exciting and thought-provoking, this performance turns traditional passion plays upside down with a cast of gospel characters, gospel writers and Christian pilgrims across the ages. You will hear the Passion story in four-part harmony as you explore with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John both the resonance and dissonance between the Gospels. You will hear the story of the Passion in historical perspective, including the ways the story has been twisted to justify anti-Judaism . . . and reclaim it as a narrative for peace, not violence.
A "talk back" session with cast, crew, and CTS President and Professor of Theology Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton follows each performance, making the Passions experience is perfect for youth groups, adult small groups, pastors, choirs, skeptics, believers -- anyone who wants to explore the central story of Christianity is a fresh, thought-provoking new way.
On the unique quality of this original Passion Play script, CTS President Matthew Myer Boulton writes:
"Two things set this Passion Play apart. First, most such plays are based on harmonizations of the four New Testament Gospels: they take the four different accounts and blend them into a single seamless storyline. Gospel harmonies have been around since the very beginning of Christianity - in fact, as early as the second century, a man named Tatian wrote a harmony that become enormous popular across what is now Syria. But what eventually became the New Testament took a different route: instead of selecting a single authoritative Gospel, or a harmony like Tatian's, the church opted for a fourfold beginning, quite unabashedly including clear differences in detail, tone, and theological theme. And so in Passions, we include each Gospel's distinctive voice -- each one is embodied by a different performer -- so that two things happen: first, the deep resonances and parallels between the four versions of the Passion come clear; and second, at the same time, the differences between the four narratives stand out. In a sense, it's like listening to the Passion narrative not in unison, but in four-part harmony -- and this makes for a much richer, compelling, thought-provoking experience.
The second thing that sets this play apart is the fact that it does not attempt to sidestep or whitewash the most controversial, troubling thing about the history of Passion Plays: the fact that, in medieval Europe but also in other times and places, Passion Plays have too often been associated with anti-Jewish ideas, and even violence. Anti-Jewish mob violence was not uncommon in medieval Europe immediately following Passion Plays (in which Jews were cast as "Christ killers"), and Hitler reportedly praised an infamous German Passion Play as a "precious tool in the war on Judaism." In fact, the Vatican has published a set of guidelines for Passion Plays, recommendations to help them avoid anti-Jewish connotations. In Passions, we address this issue head-on, including some of the most controversial verses in the Gospels -- doing so in a way that preserves a sense of reverence for the Passion narratives themselves, while at the same time thinking critically about how they have sometimes been misused.
The four passion narratives -- that is, the four stories of the cross in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John -- are at the very center of Christian faith. Passions will allow audiences to experience and explore those stories as they never have before, and to do so during Holy Week, the climax of the Christian year."
For more information, contact Lifelong Theological Education at LifeEd@cts.edu or (317) 931-4224.