Religious Advocates Protest "Playing With Redemption," Documentary About Terrence McNally's Corpus Christi
By Michael Gioia
"Playing With Redemption," a documentary following the touring company of 108 Productions' Corpus Christi—the controversial 1998 play by Tony winner Terrence McNally, which imagines Jesus as a gay man living in modern-day Texas—has drawn an angry response from religious advocates in San Francisco as its screening approaches.
As previously reported, The I AM Love Campaign, 108 Production's 2012 Sneak Preview Tour, will screen "Corpus Christi: Playing With Redemption" April 29.
An online petition, based on a series of previous anti-Corpus Christi petitions by the right-wing Catholic site America Needs Fatima, has drawn over 7,000 signatures. The petition denounces 108 Productions' version of the play and calls Corpus Christi "unspeakable blasphemy" and "prejudicial outrage."
The petition also asks the Castro Theatre, where the film will premiere, to "immediately cancel the showing of this movie and play, and to offer a public apology to Our Lord Jesus Christ and to all God fearing Americans."
Although a protest outside the April 29 event is expected, 108 is standing by Corpus Christi and its message of religious tolerance.
"Controversy and protest has followed this play from the beginning, but it has never stopped it from being performed, reaching thousands of audiences with its beautiful and positive message of inclusive love for all people," said James Brandon, actor and co-founder of 108 Productions, in a statement. "Their words of protest have only made us more empowered to love ourselves and have actually deepened our own conviction that the LGBT community absolutely has a right to a seat at the table of their chosen faith. In fact, we welcome any protester to please see the play or film as our guest so they can experience firsthand the Love He really stood for."
The event will begin at 1 PM with a VIP gathering at the city's Castro Theatre, where Reverend Cindi Love, executive director of Soulforce—an organization engaging in nonviolent resistance to bring freedom to LGBTQ people suffering from religious oppression—will give a speech and blessing. The film will be screened at 2 PM, followed by a Q&A session with the cast.
Corpus Christi will also have live performances April 28 at 7 PM at the Southside Theater at Fort Mason Center as well as April 29 at 7:30 PM and April 30 at 7 PM at The First Unitarian Universalist Society.
Corpus Christi, conceived as a modern passion play by McNally, debuted in 1998. In 2006, 108 Productions launched a revival production directed by Nic Arnzen at Los Angeles' Zephyr Theatre, which went on to tour across America. The show continued to tour through 2011—nationally and internationally—while a documentary crew followed their travels to less tolerant communities.
The I AM Love Campaign's mission is to "change the story on religious bullying and homophobia, in all ages and walks of life, by first learning to love the self." Beyond screenings of the film, which will be combined with performances of the play in select cities, 108 Productions will also conduct educational and arts-based workshops alongside gay and religious leaders in less tolerant communities around the country.
For more information, visit 108productions.org.
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