The Christians, despite the name, is a play that tackles themes of identity and belief across all faiths. With two of Chautauqua Institution’s four pillars being religion and art, this show is poised to engage with issues that are deeply integral to the Chautauqua community.
The show, written by Lucas Hnath, kicks of Chautauqua Theater Company’s 2019 mainstage season this weekend and examines how a shift in belief can rock a person, a relationship and even an entire community to the core. CTC Artistic Director Andrew Borba thinks Chautauquans are more than ready to engage with the themes of the play.
“In terms of the merging of art and religion at Chautauqua, I think it’s a perfect bridge because it’s really about merging the inquisitive and deeply questioning value that Chautauqua holds with a faith-based community,” Borba said.
CTC will hold a Brown Bag discussion, “Take Me to Church: Theater and Religion in The Christians,” at 12:15 p.m. today, June 27, in Bratton Theater, to allow audiences to engage with the play’s subject matter prior to the opening of the show on Friday.
The Christians director Taibi Magar said the show, and everything it brings up in regards to faith and the role of people in religion, is worth discussing.
“I’ve always been excited to delve into these questions about the nature of religion and spirituality,” Magar said. “I both love church and a lot of the things that religions teach, and have a lot of huge questions. I feel that this play perfectly fills a pocket of things I’m always longing to think and talk about.”
The Brown Bag will give audiences the chance to talk with CTC members about the play’s production process, the themes of the show and anything else they might be curious about in advance of seeing the show itself.
CTC Managing Director Sarah Clare Corporandy said the show brings up some tough questions, but that’s one of the valuable things about it.
“We’re very used to dealing with difficult topics in the lecture platform,” Corporandy said. “And we’ve been choosing plays every year that put something forward that we want to discuss, and the way we discuss something is by producing a play about it.”
According to Borba, the themes The Christians calls into focus are universal.
“It’s not a lecture, it’s not a sermon — it is a human investigation of someone who is questioning his faith and what that does to his church, and what that does to his relationships,” Borba said. “And I think that anyone of faith, regardless of what faith they are, has come into contact with those questions.”