N.C. Central University's theater department will soon open its new season with "Slappin' God in the Face," a gospel musical. It's written by theater professor Stephanie Howard, who wrote it earlier this year in hopes of examining Jesus Christ from a different perspective.
She spoke with us recently. Here are excerpts.
So, a catchy title.
I take it from the view of the people who conspired against him and even the people who supported him, turned against him. I try to illustrate that in the play, the people who he healed and preached to and showed kindness to, and they turned on him. So, those kinds of things I'm trying to hype up.
Is this an angle you've thought a lot about, personally?
It is. I try to keep some of the usual thoughts intact, but at the same time I want to approach some things people don't think about. I call them the 'what if's'. Like, what if Judas didn't really know he was betraying Jesus or didn't know the betrayal would lead to the crucifixion?
I try to intrude on the thoughts of characters like Judas and Mary Magdalene. I wanted to show other views of Jesus. Almost the angry Jesus when he's attacking the pharisees and attacking their political system, basically. They're all about the jewish law and making sure everything is done through the law, but not living it. Jesus becomes a threat to their whole political system by taking away their popularity and people aren't respecting their authority. So I want us to see that Jesus is this kind Jesus that we often see, but I want to show that he can get very angry.
Do you consider the play controversial?