Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dale Savidge, "Performing The Sacred"

Performing the Sacred is the first book-length exploration of the intersection of theatre and theology, illuminating the importance of preserving live performance in a virtual world. This compelling dialogue unfolds between a theologian and a theatre artist who revisit theatre's rich history and paint a picture of its promising future while building bridges between theatre and Christianity

Theologically, theatre reflects Christianity's central doctrines-incarnation, community, and presence-enhancing the human experience and shedding new light on theology. The authors show how theatre engages viewers on multiple levels, including political, social, religious, personal, intellectual, emotional, and kinesthetic. In theatre, the presence of live human beings speaks of the incarnate nature of God's redemption in Christ and of the imago Dei. The communal nature of theatre models the Trinity, while the immediacy and transcendence of theatre performance draw out the presence of God in nature and grace.


"Performance theory, history, criticism, theology, and worship are all brought together in a refreshing new look at the old art of live theatre in Performing the Sacred. It is not only an entertaining read by itself but also a unique and much needed text for university theatre arts studies."
Gillette Elvgren, Regent University

"Johnson and Savidge have given Christians a unique gift with Performing the Sacred. Their clear love of theatre and deep faith in Jesus intersect to reveal the wonders hidden in a live performance. They remind us that when theology and theatre meet the result is insight into what it means to be human and a beautiful doxology to our God."
David McFadzean, Hollywood producer/writer; cocreator of the television series Home Improvement

"Reading Performing the Sacred is akin to the thrill of the theatre's house lights dimming, the stage lights intensifying, and a great play beginning. The panoramic sweep of more than twenty centuries of theatre and theology--beginning with the ancient Greeks, detailing the mystery plays of the medieval period, and examining present-day drama--is a tour de force. Through it all, the authors articulate and affirm the indispensable role the audience plays in the production of good drama. Christian playgoers, after reading this book, will come to understand and appreciate even more deeply the theological dynamics of incarnation, Trinity, and presence at the heart of theatre. Performing the Sacred deserves a standing ovation!"
Peter Gilmour, professor emeritus, Institute of Pastoral Studies, Loyola University Chicago

"We have been waiting years and years for theatre artists and Christian theologians to get back into serious dialogue, and there is hardly anyone better prepared to lead us than Todd Johnson and Dale Savidge. This book is a hugely significant conversation starter. Decades from now we will be saying that the conversation began with this book."
Jeff Barker, professor of theatre and speech, Northwestern College

"Performing the Sacred is a landmark book--the first full-length study that explores contemporary live theatre from the perspective and experience of both the theologian and the theatre artist. Todd Johnson and Dale Savidge demonstrate a deep understanding of both theology and theatre practice, and their work explores all the important questions related to Christianity and theatre. Performing the Sacred examines the ways Christian faith can inform the study of theatre and the ways theatre can deepen our understanding of faith. This book will be useful for Christians working in theatre, pastors and church leaders who care about the connections between Christianity and culture, and scholars in theology and the arts who are looking to build on solid theological and aesthetic foundations. Focusing on the themes of incarnation, community, and presence as they apply both to theatre and Christianity, Johnson and Savidge interweave theory and practice, examining both historical and contemporary plays and productions. Performing the Sacred explores profound theological issues, but it never loses sight of the direct and immediate encounter between theatre artists and their audiences--and how lives change as a result of that real presence. I highly recommend Performing the Sacred to all serious students of Christianity and theatre, and I look forward to participating in the scholarly discussions it will inspire and deepen."
Peter L. Senkbeil, professor of theatre, Concordia University, Irvine, California

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