Wednesday, May 08, 2013

how to write | director's notes 2

I've already shared with you director Morris Ertman's pre-rehearsal notes on HOW TO WRITE A NEW BOOK FOR THE BIBLE. Here are his thoughts after spending some time working on the show.

It’s been quite a journey unpacking this play. I was drawn to it because it resonates with a belief I have had for some time - that the mystical experiences of characters in scripture were real happenings that then were mythologized in stories so remarkable that everyone had to know about them. And because people understood that they were finite, they wanted the stories to outlive their telling of them, so wrote them down. The stories all had something in common - an understanding of our humanity in relation to a God who was engaged in the day to day life of humankind.

Well, if such a relationship truly exists, why wouldn’t there be more stories that become myths that inspire us to understand that relationship? Why would it end at the Council of Nacaea where a group of religious leaders and scholars determined what books would be in the Bible around 300 AD?

That’s why this play intrigues me. It’s the journey of a writer wrestling with an understanding of his family and himself within the context of a greater myth - a myth that reaches for an understanding of our place in the sea of humanity that has come before and will come after us. It’s a journey of self-revelation contextualized by Biblical story. It’s a “why does this matter” story set in the ridiculous, goofy, undignified, petty, pretend, rarely sublime, give and take of ordinary family life. (And yes, if truth be told, we’ve all been defined by the ridiculous more often than the sublime.) Bill Cain, the priest who became the writer of a play called How To Write A New Book For The Bible - a title so long that it can’t fit on the header of a page - wonders if maybe the sublime is revealed in part by the ridiculous. Maybe the best place to find grace is in the places we think it cannot live. If that’s true, there’s hope for a little divinity to show up in all our lives, and if it does, our stories are a continuation of a grand tradition of myth where the Kingdom of Heaven is evidenced on earth.

Morris Ertman, Director


Tony Schmidt said...

We felt disappointed in this choice of play - we have felt we could trust you to choose plays that would be acceptable to take a friend to. The frequent use of four letter swear words, and using the Lord's name as a swear word made us decide not to return after intermission. We have enjoyed the other presentations we have seen.

Andrea Loewen said...

Hi Tony,

Thanks for sharing your response to the show - I am sorry to hear that you left at intermission, and am more than happy to open a dialogue with you about the choices for season.

In a nutshell, we choose plays with stories that we believe need to be told first and foremost, and because we address themes of redemption, forgiveness, and faith, often they include challenging content. We believe these stories deserve to be told, despite possible objectionable content.

If you'd like to chat further, please don't hesitate to contact me at