The Dark Hours: Five Scenes from a History

The Dark Hours: Five Scenes from a History

The Dark Hours: Five Scenes from a History

The Dark Hours: Five Scenes from a History

Excerpt

In this effort to present, in a form practicable for the current theatre, some of the events of the last hours of Jesus's life on earth, I have attempted no original interpretation of the story, nor of the hero's personality; I have been careful to adhere to the orthodox version accepted by the Christian Church from its infancy. This is not merely because I wish to avoid offending the sensibilities of Christian people, but also because I think it right, dramatically. If I believed the Christian story to be a myth, in the sense the Promethean story is a myth, I should, nevertheless, for artistic reasons, respect the orthodox traditional version of the myth in handling it for the stage. It is not by accident that legends become fixed in a certain form; the thought and emotion of the race have shaped them so; a violation of the form in which they are received is almost certain to be at the expense of some vital significance which they hold for the multitude. My pretension, here, is to show on the stage a part of the story of Jesus as it is set down in the four Gospels; and it is obligatory, ethically and artistically, that I show simply what I pretend to show: not any personal notion, deviating from the tradition, but the centre and core of the tradition itself.

I have carried my very genuine anxiety in this matter so far that I have not permitted myself, in the speeches set down for Jesus, to depart by as much as one syllable from utterances reported in one version or another of the four Gospels. Some of the speeches are taken from the Douay version of the Bible, and some from the King James version, the guiding principle of selection being, in each instance (where there is any difference at all in the two versions), merely the tone and flavour of the language.

In the English-speaking countries there is a sentiment against the appearance of Jesus on the stage. When I first considered this play, several years ago, I was inclined to rebel against the restriction. But the more I thought about it, the less inclined was I to rebel. I finally recognized that the restriction arises not altogether and alone from religious feeling in the narrower sense; it derives also from a sound (though perhaps unconscious) apprehension of dramatic values and possibilities on the part of the great masses of humanity dwelling in these countries. For you cannot show Divinity on the stage; you cannot get an actor to impersonate Divinity. You may show humanity in juxtaposition to Divinity, acted upon by Divinity and responding in one way or another to the contact -- but Divinity itself: no! The thing is impossible.

There is certain to be in the mind of every person who has thought about Jesus some conception of how he looked when he was on earth; these are ideas and ideals that would necessarily be dashed by the appearance and manner of any actor attempting to play the part. The play is built around Jesus; he is always there, his words come . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.