This summer I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work at Hope Summer Repertory Theatre as an acting intern. This means I’m performing in three out of five shows in the summer season, all of the ones I’m in are musicals as well. One of the shows I’m currently in is Godspell, a musical created in the 70’s that follows the teachings of Jesus along with the crucifixion. In the beginning of this process I didn’t realize nearly how much of an impact this show would have on my life.
I grew up hearing the gospel and teachings of Jesus constantly at church, camp, and Sunday School. Every story of the New Testament is engraved in my mind, especially the parables that Jesus taught. Godspell goes through parables such as the good Samaritan, the seed and the good/bad soil, the prodigal son, and others. What I realized through this rehearsal process is that these stories aren’t just here for us to hear what is right or wrong. The way that the disciples follow Jesus throughout the show as he teaches helped me discover the humanity in Christ.
As a Christian, Jesus has always felt like a distant landmark to me. I know he taught and lived on this Earth, but I never fully encompassed how he spoke to his followers or how he treated others. Everything feels distant when you read about what he did from an old book. Above all, the crucifixion was another aspect of the story of Christ that never felt real to me. It was something that I was told over and over in my life but never grasped the emotional importance. When I was a counseling at a sleep away camp last year this thought creeped into my head and continued to bother me until this summer.
I can say now that the crucifixion is one of the hardest things for me to think about now. During the last scene of the show, all of the disciples launch themselves at Jesus grabbing for him and feeling utterly helpless as he is put on the cross and we watch it happen without stopping it. The first time we did this scene I had tears streaming down my eyes and I finally understood what this meant to me. I realized how undeserving humanity was and still is to have a perfect, all loving person be tortured and murdered in front of my eyes. It was a sorrow I have never experienced before in my life.
Although Godspell doesn’t originally show the resurrection in the script, our wonderful director depicts Jesus rising at the top of our set as he stands behind a blinding light when we sing the finale. That literal ray of hope is what helps me continue to understand the hope and strength that Christ followers of that time needed to keep the gospel where it is today. Not only must we understand the pain of the crucifixion, but we must also know that God gives us grace because Jesus laid down his life.
This show is the most important piece I have ever done because it has helped me grow in my faith. My hope to my fellow artists is that no matter what show you do, I want you to have the opportunity to perform a piece that stirs your entire being and leads you into a better stage of life. And when you find those pieces to perform, they will stick with you forever. This is how we change the world. When you truly believe in the art you are producing, the audience knows and will be changed as well.
Thank you for listening to my story, I am beyond thankful.