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Posted October 22, 2010
Thoughtful engagement with theatre and theology
'Performing the Sacred : theology and theatre in dialogue' is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in looking for links between theatre and theology. In the book's introduction, co-authors, professors, and friends Todd E. Johnson and Dale Savidge contend that 'theology can be understood through the lens of theatre and that theatre can be understood through the lens of theology'(11). The main thrust of their argument is that the theatre embodies key aspects of the Christian faith: incarnation, community, and presence. Similar to the way actors inhabit the words of a script through speech and movement, Christ, the eternal Word, took on flesh and became the Word incarnate. The audience and actors, at least for the duration of the play, form a type of community-a truth that points to the communal nature of the Trinity. And, because theatre is traditionally understood to involve a live performance, the audience and actors are present to one another in a way that echoes God's presence in the world. The book is well-researched and contains a rich bibliography for those wishing to delve even more deeply into this growing field. Savidge and Johnson move beyond mere theory by referring to particular works of theatre throughout the book. The teaching spirit of both comes through in the book's systematic structure and sometimes conversational tone. There is also a pastoral quality present, particularly from Savidge. In a chapter entitled, 'The Christian at Work', Savidge writes about some of the struggles Christian playwrights and actors face (for example, questions of discernment about what to write or perform) and encourages them to remember that God is present in the face of challenges and decisions. In short, 'Performing the Sacred' is an engaging and understandable introduction to the ongoing conversation between theologians and theatre artists.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.