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Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Terrence McNally
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 63
Pub. Date: 1999
ISBN-10: 0822216965
ISBN-13: 9780822216964
Cast Size: 13 male

About the Play:

Corpus Christi has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Male Monologues.

Corpus Christi is a full-length drama by Terrence McNally. In this highly provocative play, the author gives us his own unique view of the story of Jesus's birth, ministry and death from a gay perspective. Terrence McNally also gives the familiar story a contemporary spin by setting it in a small Texan town called Corpus Christi during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, and in doing so provides us with a controversial affirmation of faith and a drama of power and scope.

Corpus Christi begins: "We are going to tell you an old and familiar story." But from that point on, nothing feels quite familiar again. What follows is a story that parallels the New Testament's, and its subject is nothing less than the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus. But Terrence McNally's Christ figure is a character named Joshua, a young man born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas, in the early 1950s. Different from the other boys because he is gay, Joshua grows up in isolation and torment, an object of scorn. He flees Corpus Christi in search of a more accepting environment, gathering along the way a group of disciples who are bound to him by his message of love and tolerance. Joshua delivers his Sermon on the Mount, and officiates at a gay marriage ceremony, but, inevitably, his radical teachings (like Jesus') will not deliver him from his fate. Returning to Corpus Christi, he is betrayed by his lover, Judas, and crucified in front of the jeering throngs who hated him as a boy, and still do. His plea, that we look upon all souls as equal in the sight of God, falls unattended.

Corpus Christi premiered in 1998 off-Broadway at New York's famed Manhattan Theatre Club (MTC) and was the most controversial and talked about play of the season. Named one of the best plays of the year by Time magazine, the drama has been staged in various cities, both in America and elsewhere.

Cast: 13 male (has also been performed with a female and male cast of all ages and body types)

What people say:

"A serious, even reverent retelling of the Christ story in a modern idiom—quite close, in its way, to the original… If the point is to make Jesus' teachings live for a contemporary audience, activist Christians should be hailing this play, not trying to suppress it…One of McNally's best, most moving and personal works. His updating of the Christ story is witty, but not patronizing, as sober and cleansing as a dip in baptismal waters." — Time Magazine

"Corpus Christi imagines the coming of a second messiah…References to contemporary gay culture collide with talk of Roman Centurions. The apostles spread the gospel by day, disco down at night…Yet the essential truth at the heart of the play cannot be dismissed: If today a gay man arrived bearing the same gifts Christ brought to the world, his journey might end just as terribly." — Daily Variety

"Corpus Christi provides a frequently fascinating experience... [It]explores a quest for faith by a segment of the population – homosexuals – that has for centuries been excluded and condemned by the pious God-fearing." — Time Out New York

"To see Corpus Christi the day Matthew Shepard was crucified on a Wyoming fence merely for being gay is to experience a jolt of recognition… Yes, McNally's Joshua/Jesus is gay; yes, the work is political and will offend some… McNally uses the Christ story to tell a contemporary tale of the fight against cruelty, division, hatred, and, above all, hypocrisy." — BackStage

"Terrence McNally's controversial new play is a moving, perhaps even spiritual experience." — ABC World News

About the Playwright:

Terrence McNally (1938-2020) was an American playwright whose career has spanned six decades. Initially active in the burgeoning Off-Broadway theatre movement in the 1960s, he is one of the few playwrights of his generation to have successfully made the transition to Broadway, and, in the process, passed from avant-garde to mainstream acclaim. In addition to four Tony Awards for his plays, he received two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller grant, and was a recipient of the Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, the Lucille Lortel Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Tony Awards' Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre Honor. He is considered one of America's great playwrights.

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