Jesus centre stage

Jesus centre stage: theatre, radio, church, television

Tony Jasper and Kenneth Pickering
Highland Books, 2010, £11.99, Pbk., 132 pp, ISBN 9781897913871

This book is very wide ranging in its coverage of Jesus in the performing media. It starts with the Medieval Mystery Plays and finishes right up to date. In my ignorance I hadn’t realised just how many performances of various sorts and sizes there have been in recent years with Jesus either central or appearing somewhere in the drama. Many have been controversial not least productions such as Jerry Springer, the Opera. I hadn’t realised that it was only relatively recently e.g. in Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar, that Jesus has actually been allowed to be portrayed by a real live actor in this country. Attitudes have been different in other parts of the world, and readers will be aware of the famous Oberammergau Passion Play which has been performed by the villagers there approximately every ten years since 1633 to give thanks for their delivery from the plague.

I found the sheer number of plays, music and other forms of drama including radio plays mentioned rather overwhelming, but it is interesting to note that many of the original mystery plays have been revived in various English towns and cities – I will be checking out the Wintershall Estate’s production which may be coming to Edinburgh next year.

Having two contributors to the book works well as they elaborate on different aspects and their views are brought together well in the final chapter. There is a good bibliography and helpful indexes.

Jesus Centre Stage convinced me that drama is certainly a very powerful means of communicating the Christian message though it has to be done well to be effective.

Contributed by: Anne MacRitchie, MSC, who works for NHS Grampian as an Information Assistant and serves CLIS as Regional Representative for Scotland.