Offering a plot that's part Steven Spielberg and part Jerry Falwell, Bringin' Back Jesus is playwright Edgar Chisholm's new work about a 21st-century scientist an d a priest who clone Jesus Christ using blood from the messiah's burial wrapping.
The play, directed by the author, is performed July 6-8 as part of the Fleet Bank Third Annual Harlem Summer Arts Festival, at the Apollo Theater. It had a workshop at HERE in New York City May 14-15.
In the play, by Harlem writer Chisholm, it is 2020 and an atheist scientist and a Catholic priest from a breakaway sect of the faith attempt to clone Jesus using blood from the Shroud of Turin, thought to be the burial wrapping of Christ.
Drawing inspiration from the New Testament's Revelations, the results change the world forever. Is it a good thing that Jesus is cloned?
"Depends on who you are," the playwright told Playbill On-Line. "It's a sci fi play but it's also a spiritual play. It's a spiritual journey for the scientist, [and for the priest] it's about soul-searching and facing reality about why he's a priest." The play began simply enough in Chisholm's imagination: "I started thinking about cloning and who I would like to see," he said.
The writer's previous works include Without Love and Holiday Diary. The July 6-8 performances will include a sneak preview of Chisholm's new work, A Divided Heart, a solo show about a woman with multiple personality disorder -- who is also a ventriloquist.
The partial Equity cast includes Paul Marte, Basil Meola, Kathryn Fisher, Judy Golden, Kelly Gleeson, Melvin James and Michael Kretzdorn. Designers are Rona Taylor (set) and David D. Wright (sound). Liz Dickerson is stage manager.
Tickets are $15 and reservations are recommended. The Apollo Theater is at 523 West 125th Street between Adam Claytron Powell and Frederick Douglass Blvd. For information, call (212) 281-1596.
This isn't the first time the Shroud of Turin has figured in a play: The flop 1986-87 Broadway musical, Into the Light, starring Dean Jones, was also about a doubting scientist and religious figures. The show involved the investigation of the Shroud's authenticity and the relationship between the workaholic scientist and his young son.
-- By Kenneth Jones