“I have a powerful urge to communicate with you, but I find the distance between us insurmountable.”
That quote from our upcoming show The Christians is at the core of the play’s meaning. How do we communicate with others when our beliefs, or our values, or our religion, or our political affiliation so alienate us from the human being who is standing right across from us?
In The Christians, Pastor Paul, as a young man, started a small store-front church years ago. In the beginning, he had only 30 members or so. Some 20+ years later his church has grown into a 10,000-member megachurch. And while he should be happy because the church is finally out of debt from a major expansion, he finds himself lost and struggling.
He is wrestling with what he believes God to be, most significantly whether he believes God condemns people to Hell. Through personal experience and diligent Bible study, Pastor Paul has come to believe that the concept of hell comes from humanity and not from God. And so, on the day that his large facility has been paid off, he gives a sermon that shakes his congregation’s beliefs to their very core.
This play is a brilliant examination of the quote from above: How do we communicate with someone when the distance between you seems insurmountable? How do we even start a conversation when we have contempt for those who see God, or the world, differently than we do?
It seems to me that if humanity leaves this question unexamined it could end up being extremely damaging to those of us who are Christians, not to mention those of us who are Americans.
In the past, Christians and Americans usually could accept differences among us with the belief that what unites us in stronger and more powerful than what divides us. But we are moving toward a world where this is no longer the case, where that insurmountable distance silences all meaningful communication, even between friends and families.
If that statement resonates with you, if you feel alienated from people who were once your best friends, or if you avoid family members because you no longer feel as though you can talk to them, then this is a play you must not miss.
The cast for this extraordinary play is Austin Berger as Pastor Paul, Jennifer Poiry as his wife Elizabeth, his younger protégé played by Riley Newsome, and the church elder played by longtime FPT actor David McCants. Rounding out the cast are Alora Nichole as congregant Jenny and Tommy Saul as the musician.
The Christians previews Thursday, Jan. 3 at 7:30 p.m. (all seats $12—no presale—available at the door). The play then runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. from Jan. 4-19, with one Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. on Jan. 13.
Tickets are $20 general admission, $18 for patrons age 65+, and free for the first 30 full-time students per performance who make reservations. All seating is festival seating (first come, first served) and doors will open 30 minutes prior to curtain.
To reserve a ticket call the Box Office at 260-426-7421 ext. 121; the hours are Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., and one hour prior to every performance. Or call another time and leave a message and we will call you back.
At FPT, if you are deciding last minute, most nights you can walk up and get a ticket the night of the show. You can also buy tickets, as well as find out all about FPT, by going to our website, firstpresbyteriantheater.com.
If you would like to participate in a discussion about the show, stop by on Wednesday, Jan. 23, from 6-7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church’s T.O.W.N. gathering (Together on Wednesday Nights). A light supper is served from 5:30-6 p.m., and all are welcome.