View Full Version : "Corpus Christie" Anyone else seen it?

08-24-2001, 09:55 PM
Mods, please feel free to move this thread should this turn into a religious debate. :)


I've finally seen Corpus Christie. I can't really see where all the controversy over this play is coming from. It's not a bad work, but it's certainly no re-interpretation of Christian Scripture. The playwright, MacNally, draws on his childhood experiences of growing up gay in Corpus Christie, Texas during the 1950s and attempts to draw some parallels between that and persecution that Jesus at the hands of the Romans and Pharisees.

I don't think the parallel works that well. Not that the parallel doesn't exist, but MacNally's juxtaposition of Palestine under Roman occupation and Corpus Christie, Texas of the 1950s was jarring. One example; it's the night of the senior high school dance. As the dance winds down, the Emcee of the ceremonies reminds everyone that the Romans close the gates of the city between 1 AM and 5 AM and allow no one to in or out of the city. It doesn't make sense! :(

The plot of the play is already known; the life of Jesus up to his cruxifiction. There were no surprises or re-interpretations of those events. The only two characters fleshed out were Jesus (here re-named Joshua) and Judas. In 1950s Corpus Christie, Joshua was the outsider, an effeminate man who had no interest in "manly" sports or other activities. Judas was just one of the guys, handsome suave and worldly. Judas saves Joshua from other jocks who were hold him upside down over a toilet and they become friends and eventually lovers. Back in Roman occupied Palestine, Jesus can forsee what is to come but I get the impression Judas knows what's going to happen as much as Jesus does, and feels as much apprehension about it. He's cast into a role, one he doesn't like and can do nothing to escape the inevitable ending.

Humor, if anything else, saves this play. The writing allows the actors to improvise and have fun. For example, in the opening sequence, Mary and Joseph have stopped at roadside motel for the night. The cast, to set the spirit of Christmas eve, sing carols. Or, at least, they try to. They go thru the first few lines of various religious carols and realize they've forgotten the words! Finally the break into a rousing round of Jingle Bells. The spirit of the motel is revealed as "oh, fuck me! fuck me! fuck me!" and "I'm fucking you! I'm fucking you! I'm fucking you!" is heard in the background as Mary and Joseph settle in for the night.

I couldn't help but juxtapose Corpus Christie with The Last Temptation of Christ as I watched. Whereas Last Temptation offered a re-interpretation of standard Scripture, including a great arguement scene between Jesus and Paul, Corpus didn't do anything like that. It offers the parallels between Jesus's persecution and the persecution of gay men during the 1950s, but nothing is done with the paralells. The audience is left hanging, wondering what it's all about.

Anyone else have a different viewpoint?

08-27-2001, 07:00 PM
So, no one else has seen this play? :(

08-30-2001, 03:04 AM
Originally posted by Freyr
<snip> The only two characters fleshed out were Jesus (here re-named Joshua) and Judas. <snip>

Sorry Freyr I haven't seen the play and so can't comment or discuss it with you. However, I can tell you that Jesus is the English modification of the greek form of the name Joshua (Jehishua, Jeshua, Jesha); sometimes also Grecized into Jason. So it's not such a huge jump the playwright made to "re-name" Him Joshua, after all the English renamed Him Jesus when translating.

Upon preview I'm suddenly worried I should provide a cite. I can't find a link online but the information comes to me from a heavily researched and annotated book titled The Life of CHRIST by Frederic W. Farrar, originally published in England in 1874.

08-30-2001, 05:39 PM
AbbySthrnAccent wrote:

So it's not such a huge jump the playwright made to "re-name" Him Joshua, after all the English renamed Him Jesus when translating.

I'm not bothered by the name change at all. I just added it to clarify the point that while the main character is the biblical Jesus, for the sake of the play he's (aptly) named Joshua.

Anyone in the Chicago area seen this play yet? I understand there's a production company running it there, presently. The Chicago Reader supposedly gave it a great review.

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