I am really looking forward to directing The Christians, which is an irony, really, if you know me well. I am most definitely not a religious person, and yet this play, The Christians, resonates on many levels for any thinking human being.
First of all, it's important to note that this smart and subtle play by Lucas Hnath, is not at attack on religion at all. It is an exploration of how our beliefs shape us, and how despite our need to communicate and connect with others, what we believe is a powerful force in blocking that ability to communicate.
The story of The Christians centers around an Evangelical Pastor who comes to a realization that there is no literal Hell out there. Hell, he comes to believe, is a state of mind here on earth. He believes that God's love extends to all beings, and that through God's love, all are forgiven.
When he preaches this new doctrine to his congregation, a schism is set in motion that ends up destroying much of what he holds dear. This is actually a story that has happened in real life many times. Some famous Evangelical Pastors who have had this exact same experience are Rev. Rob Bell and Rev. Carlton Pierson. Both of them lost their churches and endured major losses in their lives as a result of their changing beliefs.
I think that the ability to change one's mind is the hallmark of a brave soul. I am curious as to how this happens and what the repercussions are.
Lucas Hnath, who grew up in the Evangelical Church, presents a very personal, very powerful exploration of a loaded subject where nobody is made to look foolish, and all have valid points of view.
The Christians is not an intellectual exercise. It is a deeply personal story of one man's journey, portrayed in a unique and intimate way.
I hope you will come see this play! Christian or not, it speaks to the challenges we all face in our attempts to belong, to communicate and to persuade.
And we are going to be treated to a gospel choir onstage, and who can argue with that!!