S25-230 Performance Criticism of Biblical and Other Ancient Texts

11/25/2013 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Room: 341 - Convention Center

Theme: Staging, Acting, and Performance

Kathy Maxwell, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Presiding

Robin Gallaher Branch, Victory University, Astonishment and Joy: Luke 1 as Told from the Perspective of Elizabeth (25 min)

Below you will find other published plays by Robin Gallaher Branch: 

Branch, Robin Gallaher.  2013.  “Funny Bone finds a home: A musical featuring the Body of Christ.” In die Skriflig 2013.  In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi  47(1)  Art. #113, 17 pages. http://www.indieskriflig.org.za/index.php/skriflig/article/viewFile/113/2365

Branch, Robin Gallaher.  2013.   “When Mary tells Joseph: A play based on Matthew 1:18–19.”  In die Skriflig 2013 In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi 47(1), 12 pages. http://dx.doi.org/10.4102/ids.v47i1.92.

Branch, Robin Gallaher.  2013.  “Astonishment and Joy:  Luke 1 as Told from the Perspective of Elizabeth”In die Skriflig 2013: In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi; Vol 47, No 1 (2013), 10 pages. doi: 10.4102/ids.v47i1.77.  http://www.indieskriflig.org.za/index.php/skriflig/article/view/77.

Branch, Robin Gallaher.  2010.   “He is Risen!  A Play Based on Acts 1:1-12” In die Skriflig 2010 44(1):229-258, for the memorial edition for Prof. Dr. Ben de Klerk.

Branch, Robin Gallaher.  2006.  “Life's Choices: A Play Based on Eight Characters in Proverbs.” Society of Biblical Literature.  “SBL Forum for February/March 2006.”  Eight pages.  http://www.sbl-site.org/Article.aspx?ArticleId=488

Branch, Robin Gallaher.  2004.  “Life’s Choices:  A Play Based on Eight Characters in Proverbs”. Christian Higher Education:  A Journal of Applied Research and Practice. 2004 4 (1): 57-69


Sherri Brown, Niagara University, What is Truth? Jesus, Pilate, and the Staging of Dialogue of the Cross in John 18–19 (25 min)


In the Johannine passion narrative, the Fourth Evangelist is primarily concerned with the unfolding drama of the revelation of God’s love for humankind.  The phenomenon of circumventing human expectation appears in both the presentation of the glory of God and the means by which Jesus is glorified (through crucifixion).  The process of Jesus’ glorification is presented as a five act drama across as many geographical locations.  In the third of these acts, Jesus faces “the Jews” and Pilate through seven scenes as his earthly destiny is determined.  This central moment of the passion drama becomes the focus for the audience as Jesus turns the tables and challenges Pilate with the truth that is his gift to the world.

This paper explores the performance features embedded in this text as they cross the dramatic axis into the theatrical axis in terms of the staging of these seven scenes as Pilate moves outside and inside the praetorium to speak with “the Jews” who refuse to enter and Jesus who has been handed over to him for crimes against the state.  The surreal scenes of the Roman governor flitting back and forth between the accusers and the accused seemingly trying to assuage both parties emulates physically the wavering Pilate’s own mental ambivalence on the challenge of Jesus who stands before him discussing kingship and truth.  Jesus’ passion turns on Pilate’s inexorable decision.  This act is thus the core of the drama by way of this distinctive dialogue between Jesus, Pilate, and “the Jews.”  As Pilate investigates the crime set before him and wavers between the accusers and accused, he is stopped momentarily by his own question on the nature of truth.  Leaving this question unanswered seals both Jesus and Pilate’s fate.  At the same time, the audience is incited to step in, stop the vacillating, and offer its own answer to thereby determine its own destiny in faith and the glory of God.

Bernhard Oestreich, Friedensau Adventist University, Performing Biblical Narratives: Actor or Narrator? (25 min)

Michele Osherow, University of Maryland - Baltimore County, Staging Shakespeare’s Bible (25 min)

Rachael Huntley, New York Theological Seminary and Ian Kinman, Fordham University, From Text to Performance with a Scene from Measure for Measure (20 min)

Michele Osherow, University of Maryland - Baltimore County, Respondent (10 min)

Glenn Holland, Allegheny College, Respondent (10 min)

Discussion (10 min)