‘Corpus Christi’ Wrap Party


Blasphemer.  Heretic.  Sodomite.

We got called a variety of names over the last two months.  (Some more deserved than others.)  We got protested.  We even got a death threat.

An actress was hurt backstage during the first 20 minutes of a 2 hr and 10 minute play.  She had to go to the hospital, not however, before powering through the pain and turning the injury into a believable part of her performance.

Nothing was able to silence our production of Corpus Christi.

This is due in large part to our friends at First Grace United Church of Christ.  First Grace was incredibly supportive during the whole process and went so far as to provide a security team, a peaceful police presence and a message of love to any and all protesters.

We had more sponsors for this show than ever before.  Those sponsors—Angel Falls Coffee Company, Every Blooming Thing, Pure Intentions, Dance Your Soul and Nanci Self & Stephan Collins—took the time to send us well-wishes during the week leading up to our opening.

We also had an outpouring of support from the community.  One evening we had to add 50 chairs to the performance area to accommodate the size of the audience.  The next performance we raised over $160 in donations.

We made $100 more than projected and were able to pay our actors the most we’ve been able to pay for a single run of a show.

Some patrons loved the show.  Others hated it.  There wasn’t much middle ground.  Which, to us, means we created a great show.  Even if it’s vehement opposition to our work, we like to think that at least that person made an informed and decisive opinion instead of being caught in the gray area of “meh” that many Americans find themselves in.  At least it got people talking.

All in all, I was pretty impressed.

But there were a few moments where I almost broke down because of the controversy surrounding our show.  First Grace received over 26,000 emails protesting the show.  Most of them were simply submitted via a click function from the America Needs Fatima website, but regardless, that’s still a lot of emails.

10 years ago, when the show was produced in the Akron area, the theatre where it was being performed pulled the performance space.  The cast and crew had 10 days to find a new venue and get the show ready for opening.  The University of Akron opened its doors to the production.  They received at least 4,000 messages (after that the director lost count and messages started to go to the university president) and had protesters for every performance- the final performance had 80.  The protesters ranged in ages from 7 to 80 and had signs that said, “sodomites burn in hell” and “god hates fags.”

This time around, we had 1 evening of protestors.  There were only about 20 of them and their message was less hateful (if that can be said about a hate-filled message.)

We were no less visible.  In fact, because of the internet, there was probably more information available about our production.

So, maybe I’m dreaming- maybe I’m being too optimistic- but this gives me hope.  Maybe we’re winning the battle.  Not the battle against religion, but the battle against hatred and ignorance.  Maybe we’ve taken a step in the right direction.

Maybe in another 10 years, there won’t be ANY protesters.

-Benjamin Rexroad
Artistic Director

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