One-woman Performance of the Gospel of John on April 16 and 17
Meda Stamper, a senior Master of Divinity student at Columbia Seminary, will present a performance of the Gospel of John on April 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. in the Harrington Center auditorium, located on the seminary campus. The performance, which is free and open to the public, is a dramatic telling of the Gospel from the biblical text. Under the direction of Charles Cousar, New Testament professor, Stamper developed this performance as a way for people to encounter the story anew.
After seeing Shakespearean actor Alec McCowen's performance of Mark,
Stamper was struck by the power of the text when it was performed rather than read, and she proposed a performance of John as a senior project. "We agreed that this was an interpretive act and that embodying the Gospel text in this way and performing it from memory could be as revealing as a traditional exegesis paper," says Cousar, whose biblical department approved the project. Stamper has omitted some verses from various parts of the book -- the equivalent of about four of the 21 chapters – so that the performance can take place in less than two hours, but she has left intact chapters 18 to 21, the account of the arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection.
"Hearing the Gospel in this way brings to light an entirely new set of questions and insights, particularly about the characters in the Gospel," Stamper says. "You begin to realize the amount of conflict in this narrative. Jesus is constantly under threat of violence, almost from the first, which makes his strange, bold statements about himself all the more remarkable." She believes that even those familiar with the text will see and hear new things in the Gospel when they experience it in this way and that those who know little about it may be surprised by the Jesus who is revealed there. The performance will be underscored by drummer Andrew-Foster Connors '01 and lit by Tim Reynolds '01 with assistance from Alex Feliberty-Ruberte '99. They, along with Professor Anna Carter Florence, Julie Walkup '99, and Erin Sharp '99, will also help with the direction and staging.
Stamper will begin a Ph.D. program in New Testament this fall. She was a writer at The Coca-Cola Company prior to beginning seminary. A 1987 graduate of Agnes Scott College and a 1988 graduate of Middlebury College's Paris-based Master's program in French, she has been involved in the performing arts for the past 20 years.
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