God-inspired Theatre, theatre, Zora Neale Hurston, sweat, spiritual, acting, God
The purpose of this thesis is to showcase the importance of God-inspired Theatre and to manifest the transformative effects of living in accordance to the Word of God. In order to share my vision for theatre such as this, I will examine the biblical elements in Zora Neale Hurston's short story Sweat (1926). I will write a stage adaptation of the story, while placing emphasis on the biblical lessons that can be used for God-inspired Theatre. When viewing the stage adaptation based on Sweat, the audience members will understand how God-inspired Theatre aims to help members of society utilize their gifts and abilities to assist others in achieving spiritual stability. The members of the audience will also be informed of my vision to use this piece to inspire others to embrace cultural awareness and sensitivity. This is my vision--helping others to walk in their God-ordained destiny. With this in mind, I am using Sweat as a proposed play because it is closely related to the creation account as recorded in the Old Testament Book of Genesis. In this play, Adam and Eve are replaced with the characters Sykes and Delia Jones. The creation account is a very influential testimony because it is known throughout humanity. Its popularity is due to the fact that the Old Testament is the commencement of the Christian Bible. For those of the Jewish faith, the collection encompasses the Torah, the first five books of the bible--the law for everyday living-- as well as the history of God's promise to them. For Christians, the Old Testament is just as sacred, but they view its religious meaning as incomplete without the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ detailed in the New Testament. Also, Muslims trace their religious roots to some of the figures in the Old Testament although they deny the religious significance of the work as a whole. In essence, the Old Testament is crucial to Western Civilization. This is why Sweat is so powerful. It takes an extremely familiar testimony and shares pertinent messages that help people to become productive members of society. In order to show how effective Sweat is in helping others to live spirit-filled lives, I will use creative staging that will place the characters in the personal space of the audience members. I will achieve this by: having the actors enter and exit from the audience; allowing certain scenes to take place within the audience; and having the actors deliver some lines to various audience members. I feel that by making the audience a part of the production, it will cause them to see that they are not any different from the characters in the play. At some point in their lives, theatergoers have encountered--or been intimate with--an Adam, an Eve, a Sykes or a Delia. This will cause them to not see Sweat as just a play, but as a valuable life lesson, triggering self-examination and initiating renovated thinking that helps people to become culturally aware and spiritually sound. It is imperative that the biblical messages in Sweat are conspicuous. Whereas the narrator normally describes Delia's facial expression or feelings, I plan to write in scenes where her thoughts are audible. Some of her thoughts will include moments when she is praising and worshipping God. This is apparent because she starts to emerge as a woman of strength as the story progresses. Her relationship with God is cultivated on a daily basis. This is why she is able to tolerate her husband's foolishness. Her husband, Sykes, does not commune with God. To demonstrate his lack of communion with God, I will stage him being resistant to her times of worship--as he normally is according to the narrator. Clearly, the marriage is unbalanced. One partner is trying to please God, and the other is trying to please self. This is not how God intended marriage to be. In the New Testament Book First Peter, it states in the third chapter and seventh verse "husbands are to dwell with them in understanding, giving honor to the wife... being heirs together of the grace of life." Showing the burdensome consequences of destructing God's original design will pull on the hearts of audience members because they have encountered or known someone who is presently dealing with the consequences of this disobedient act. I will further reiterate the need for living a spirit-filled life by using costumes, scenic devices, and lighting to convey the godly and ungodly character traits that are embodied within the story. Through the use of colors and patterns, I will project the internal state of the character as in relation to God's instructions. I will work with a lighting designer in order to help convey the moods of the various scenes. The lighting techniques we choose will help to establish the thoughts and personalities of the characters. These feelings will transcend the minds of the audience and cause them to take the biblical messages into very deep consideration. The actors are the final ingredients in making Sweat an awe-inspiring, informative piece. Words are what they are, what one perceives them to be, while on paper. It is the job of the actor to give life to these words, cause them to live in the atmosphere, and to make the character come alive. Until the actor embodies the very heart of a character, the message in God-inspired Theatre will not be able to come forth and propel audience members to have a spiritual awakening. This is why people cannot just read Sweat. They must see the trials and journeys in order to receive life-changing revelations from the testimonies within the play.
Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Roberson, Aqueelah, "Sweat: The Exodus From Physical And Mental Enslavement To Emotional And Spiritual Liberation" (2007). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3319.