When Terrence McNally’s play Corpus Christi had its New York debut in 1998, it had endured a lot of protest and controversy. Having Jesus as a gay man in 1950s Texas did not bode well for several Catholics and there were anonymous bomb threats for the Manhattan Theatre Club, who wanted to remove the show from its fall schedule. McNally was also receiving death threats but New York’s artistic community bonded together to have an opening, which attracted 2,000 protestors outside of the theater. Flash forward to present day and Corpus Christi is still making an impact on the Catholic community.
A documentary about the revival of the play entitled Corpus Christi: Playing With Redemption will have its world premiere Sunday, April 29 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. It goes behind the scenes of 108 Productions, with the cast and crew as they try to remake McNally’s passionate and provocative work. According to SF Weekly’s The Snitch, Catholic group America Needs Fatima have posted a form letter on their website for users to add their name to. There have been 13,000 people who have sent the following, protesting this “blasphemous homosexual play”:
I strongly protest against the showing of the blasphemous play Corpus Christi,which includes a Christ-like figure who reportedly has sexual relations with his apostles, and of the movie which promotes it, Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption. The Person of Jesus Christ is Sacred and untouchable. To portray Him as a homosexual, or even to insinuate it, is an unspeakable blasphemy which I reject with all my soul.
Supporters of Corpus Christi argue the play is very current and needs to be seen for the LGBT bullying issues that are going on nationally. James Brandon, 108 Productions’ co-founder and a cast member, said the following in a statement:
“Our tour aims to change the story on religious bullying and homophobia in all ages and walks of life, by teaching our audiences to love themselves for who they are. As the voices of intolerance around the world continue preaching ignorance and hate, we will keep raising our voices from a place of love — and as our tour continues, we will spread that love to places where love for LGBT people is lacking.”
Cast and crew of 108 Productions have been flooded with attacking e-mails, even targeting the director’s Iowan mother. The Internet has a plethora of negative comments from opponents of the film and the play. But the show will go on. A meet and greet with the cast will occur with a choral performance by the members of the Church of Uncommon Hope at the premiere of the documentary. Corpus Christi will be performed April 28-30 in San Francisco.
Take a look at the trailer for Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption below and let us know what you think.