Saturday, October 24, 2015

on broadway | the christians, by lucas hnath

Maybe this for Pacific Theatre?

Lucas Hnath. He is an artist whose particular brand of American strangeness grows along with his strengths, many of which—a sense of high drama, and a deep understanding of how the patriarchy wants to hold on to just that—are not immediately apparent in his minimal scripts, which look, on the page, less like dialogue than like poems.

The thirty-six-year-old writer grew up strange. Raised in Orlando, he says that an early expectation was that he would become a preacher, in part because of his mother’s interests. She herself enrolled in seminary when he was a teen-ager, and he sat in on her classes, picked up some Greek and Hebrew, and learned how to interpret the Bible. Translating is the playwright’s job; he must transcribe and shape what one character’s soul says to another. Hnath skipped life as a pastor, he says, because he didn’t want to be responsible for people’s souls; he chose another way into magic and mysticism by becoming a playwright.

Hnath’s eleventh full-length play, “The Christians,” at Playwrights Horizons (in previews, opening Sept. 17), is set in a megachurch. It’s also about men battling for power, but instead of money and show business the issues are influence and faith: How do we interpret, let alone control, another person’s vision? And why do men fight over the right to say what they mean while grabbing everyone else’s right to speak, too? For all its control on the page, “The Christians” is about the uncontrollable, which is to say, how we imagine what life will look like once we enter the everlasting.

New Yorker
September 7, 2015

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