Should Christian Theatre Be More Edgy?

There’s a little piece of fruit with a bite taken out of it on the back of the device that my friend can’t seem to put down.  On the internet, one can access any translation of the Bible, or instructions on how to make things that blow up, or images that have literally become digital addictions.  On Central Avenue, girls walk the streets in the way the book of Proverbs warns against.  I’m beating around the bush and not exactly saying these things outright.  The question is, if the apple already has a bite taken out of it, do we leave it alone and pretend it’s not there, or pick it up and tell people why it’s so important to resist?  There are pro’s and con’s to both, of course.

On one hand, tradition would have us (Christian theatre artists) show what we know of good, and how to be good, and trust the audience to know evil when it comes.  This isn’t altogether bad, but evil always wears more disguises than good.  I like to know what I’m up against.  When students I used to work with in Youth Ministry would jokingly ask me to give them one good reason not to try drugs, I would very seriously reply, “because you might like it.”  If evil was easy to recognize, no one would be addicted to anything.

Of course, you don’t handle such things by picking up the forbidden fruit and holding it’s juicy, ripe, and delicious looking exterior up to kids and say, “now don’t eat this.”  The question is not whether or not to show disturbing images during a performance, but whether or not to breach a subject with the level of realism necessary to make a difference.  A good production will almost force you to connect with one or more characters, and therefore deal very personally with both the goodness and evil that characters may face.  Taking up a cross to follow Christ has always been a heavy subject, and perhaps we should find heavier ways to deal with it.  There are things we have not died to, and we must, but are we afraid to point them out?  It would seem that live theatre would be a powerful way to deal with heavy realities, but does the PG-13 version (dare I say R?) belong on the stage in our sanctuaries and worship centers?

This is something The WordPlayers have been praying about and wrestling with.  Rooms have usually been divided half and half on the matter of, say, curse words in a Christian play.  How do we honor and respect the validity of both sides?  I would love to hear some feedback on this matter.  Please comment, email, call, or message me on Facebook and let’s figure it out.  There are people struggling with burdens we cannot lift with a PG rated conversation.  Should we go there?

Talk to me.

Ethan Norman
Artistic Associate, The WordPlayers