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Gospel show! Actor to perform book of Mark in C’Gardens church • Brooklyn Paper

Gospel show! Actor to perform book of Mark in C’Gardens church

He’s not the messiah — he just plays one on stage: Actor Christopher Johnson will perform the Gospel of Mark inside a church.
Photo by Todd France

He is a Jesus Christ superstar!

An actor will perform almost all of the book of Mark and a sliver of Luke at a Carroll Gardens church on April 25.

The show, “Saint Mark’s Gospel: An After-Dinner Entertainment,” will be delivered verbatim from the Kings James Version Bible — but the theological thespian said even those who find the text hellish to read through will enjoy his live performance, which really brings the story to life.

“The dialogue is very concise, quick, and very funny,” said performer Christopher Johnson, who lives in Prospect Heights and memorized the show over 18 months. “It is hard to read the stuff on paper … but it is an incredibly rich text.”

The two-and-a-half hour show, which includes a 15-minute intermission, comprises Mark chapter one, verse one through chapter 16, verse 11, as well as the last chapter of Luke. But for all the scripture, the show is more matter-of-fact than mystical, according to Johnson, who said that the author of Mark penned a realistic savior.

“I just fell in love with the Jesus he presents, because he is so human,” he said, adding that the messiah didn’t mince words. “You get the feeling he really enjoys the intellectual bickering — he always wins with a zinger.”

Johnson also said he chose to omit the later chapters of Mark and end with Luke — which he said closely mimics the author of Mark’s style — to keep the performance down-to-Earth. He said it is a consensus among scholars that Mark’s current ending was probably tacked on by early churches to add theology and finish the book with a classical ending — but he said the additions ruin the text.

“It is a terrible piece of writing,” he said. “The language changes, the rhythm changes.”

Johnson said he will perform the one-man show — which features old-fashioned language and a simple costume — as it most likely would have been staged in first-century Rome, when biblical performances were common after-dinner entertainment in private homes.

And you don’t have to be a Christian to watch the show — even heathen theater buffs will appreciate the performance, Johnson said.

“It is as credible as any real theater is,” he said.

“Saint Mark’s Gospel: An After-Dinner Entertainment” at Saint Paul’s Church [199 Carroll St. between Clinton and Court streets in Carroll Gardens, (718) 625-4126, www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1351017]. April 25 at 7:30 pm. $20 ($15 students and seniors).

Reach reporter Vanessa Ogle at vogle@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4507. Follow her attwitter.com/oglevanessa.

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