“This play is not pretty,” writes Steve Julian in the Playwright’s Note regarding his work “What Kind of God?” which is currently performing at the Lillian Theatre in Hollywood. He says so because the play deals with substantially polarizing subjects – religion, faith, and how much trust is due to those who say to represent God on earth.
“What Kind of God?” is a 100-minute play with no intermission delivered by five actors, one of them Julian himself. And yes, he is the same Steve Julian you hear daily in “Morning Edition” on the NPR affiliate aired from Pasadena.
In the play, three of the characters are deeply involved in religion. One has been completely disillusioned by it. One is guilty of sexual abuse. Another one is a victim of it. Two are gay. One does not want to be it.
With what develops between the characters Julian wants to underline the price that must be paid by some so that the horrible acts of others can keep quiet. Julian does not condemn the Church. He does not campaign against God. But he discusses the consequences of giving enormous power and trust to the wrong people. In his own words, “in the godly assignation we give to certain pastors and teachers, coaches and scout leaders, and so many others who stand on pedestals.”
Steve Julian had a religious upbringing, one a bit confused since he received evangelical instruction at home but attended Catholic school. The priest who once was his school principal, Julian now knows, had maintained a sexual relationship with a teenage girl back in the 1960s, after which he was only briefly restricted and instead later assigned to serve on a sexual abuse advisory board. That same man was finally dismissed from priesthood just a few years ago, when he admitted to molesting yet another girl.
It is such background that inspired Julian to begin a “new social awareness campaign” that he calls “Silence No One,” which will comprise a trilogy of plays out of which “What Kind of God?” is the first. The second play will deal with the cost of silencing sexual abuse in the military.
“What Kind of God?” is thought-provoking and intelligent. It incites discussion, which is the opposite of silence, and therefore a step in the direction intended by the playwright.
“What Kind of God?” stars Brett Donaldson, Emily Faris, Robert Keasler, Katherine McGehee, and Steve Julian, and is directed by Aaron Lyons, who recently worked in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” at the Sierra Madre Playhouse.
The Lillian Theatre is located at 1076 Lillian Way, Hollywood, CA 90038. It plays Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through October 20. Tickets are $23 every day but Thursday when is “tithe-what-you-can.” Learn more about the play at www.whatkindofgodtheplay.com
photo credit Ted Augustyn
Thanks for reading Dena’s post about “What Kind of God?”!
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