Thursday, February 19, 2009

DFW Theater: In The Beginning

Tonight, Freddy and I went to see In The Beginning at Dallas Theater Center. The play was extended through this weekend (meaning, tonight, tomorrow, and Saturday). If there is any chance at all that you can go, GO.

Originally, the DTC was going to put on a "pre-written" (shall we say) play based on the Book of Genesis (you know, from the Bible). However, when the cast read the play, they found it profoundly boring and dry. Then they read the Book of Genesis itself (read it aloud, as if it were a play), they found it fascinating.

They invited theologians and clergy from the DFW area (it's like the cast of a bad joke: a pastor, a preacher, a rabbi, a priest, a minister... you get the idea), and they talked about the events, ideas, issues, concepts in the first ten chapters of Genesis (the Creation of the Earth through Noah and the flood).

The play starts out with the actors talking to the audience, with the house lights still up, explaining the process, how this production came to be. Then the lights go down, and we see the "play," the theatrical representation of the opening lines of Genesis, with God creating the Earth. (Every actor takes his or her turn playing God, which makes my God even more of an Awesome God.)

On the seventh day, God rests. And the actors, playing a rabbi, a minister, a theologian, a seminary student, and just... people, come on stage and talk about it. What does it mean? What's "a day"? What's the important part of the Creation story? What do we take from this? What should we take from this?

Nerd that I am, I had to pull out my notepad and take notes. The words the cast wove into and extracted from God's Word were wisdom I wished I could have paused, to have enough time to properly process and allow to soak in. I want a copy of the script. I want to have the performance on TiVO, so I can watch and rewind and rewatch it, to get all the thoughts. It was kind of like a Marx Brothers movie, where you're almost afraid to laugh because you'll miss the next joke: if you thought about how to answer that question, you might miss the next.

After the story of Noah, the actors (as actors) come on stage again, to ask the audience some of these questions. They have multiple mics, so we can all hear the audience's answers; also, a member of the clergy/rabbi/theologian, one of the Advisory Council members who helped "write" the play, is there to give his or her insight (I assume it was a different one each night). When the discussion wraps up, the actors present the finale.

I hope DTC plans on bringing this back. Either the same show, or a sequel (Genesis does have 40 other chapters, after all!) Watching this obra de teatro* was a moving and thought-provoking experience, and I'm kicking myself that we waited until THE LAST WEEKEND to go. Because now I don't have a chance to go back.

Buy your tickets. You know you wanna.

*The Spanish word for "(theatrical) play" is "obra de teatro," a "work of theater." (Like in French, "ouvre oeuvre**.") I have a hard time calling In The Beginning a "play," as if it were a game of Parchesi. It is a work of theater: a beautifully executed, original concept with artistic and intellectual merit far beyond your usual "play."

**Merci, M. Anonyme!


  1. Anonymous2:55 AM

    I think you may mean "une oeuvre", instead of "ouvre". :-)

  2. That sounds fascinating. =)