Should Christian Theatre be more edgy? (A closing)

No one would argue that hiding a wound is a good way to heal it. But, that doesn’t mean that slathering various ointments over a wound are the answer either. It has been said that some types of Theatre Arts like Playback Theatre, which we (The WordPlayers) are building into our arsenal, are not therapy, but are therapeutic. In the metaphor of medicine and wounds, that would put such art in the realm of “pain reliever” over “antibiotic.” But perhaps I should not be allowed to go too far with a metaphor.

Tonight, there was a meeting in which a very important discussion came up, that pertains to this one. It was a discussion that changes the question should Christian theatre be more “edgy?” to something more like, should Christian Theatre wear a protective veil? The details are not important, but the concept is. It was regarding racism, and a piece of well known theatre that uses the full language of whites and slaves in history: the “N” word. The question is whether or not to keep it in as written, or edit it. There are valid, even strong arguments for both options, yet a decision will have to be made.

It is not like the choice between saying “he who must not be named” versus courageously saying “Voldemort.” It’s not like trying to do a World War II scene without guns. It is entirely different from most scenarios that we can connect with personally. There are horrible things which really happened that we need to be disgusted with, and there is the question of whether or not  those who have actually been hurt by such things should be subject to some reprise of it, even if it is “art.” We want to be honest about the past, and unveil the wrongs, to shed light on that which is in darkness. But what does it cost?

If you read these, this is the time to chime in. This is not a decision that one person can make. It is a decision probably too big even for the handful of folks who discussed it tonight, and who wisely decided to pray and think long and patiently about it. Voices, caring voices, from different cultures and age groups and regions are needed to bring healing in places where whole nations have gone wrong for whole centuries. If not, then we risk an attempt to heal which could hurt instead, in some way, whether we choose to edit reality or to vocalize something that needed to be silenced. It would be much simpler if it were only in the past. Whatever happens, that is our goal: that hate-filled language would be no more. Some wounds need to be broken further to heal properly; some need to rest and be packed in ice. Which is this?

Talk to me.

Ethan Norman
Artistic Associate, The WordPlayers
(865) 548-1188