ALTON – Jesus Christ was considered a radical in his day, a subversive who preached about taking care of the sick and poor and who cast out the moneymakers from the temple. Governments don’t like subversives and do what they can to control or eliminate them.
Renowned satirist, playwright and actor Justin Butcher took those concepts, combined them and put his own spin on them. The result is his 2016 one-act play, “The Devil’s Passion,” the Easter story told from Satan’s perspective.
John O’Hagan will perform the American premiere of “The Devil’s Passion” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8, Saturday Dec. 9 and Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 14-16 at Jacoby Arts Center, 627 E. Broadway, Alton, IL. O’Hagan, the lead and solo actor, will offer post-performance discussions. The play runs about 90 minutes without an intermission.
“The Devil’s Passion” is a unique look at a story that’s been told many times. In this version, the last days of Christ are presented as a counter-terrorism operation. Satan is an Intelligence Chief fighting extremism in the Middle East and his operatives are closing in on the “radical preacher and populist demagogue Y’shua Bar-Yessuf,” better known as Jesus. Satan is the only character in the play but within the play, he takes on the role of other key figures from Christ’s life.
O’Hagan’s mother-in-law saw the play in London last spring and urged him to read it. He was immediately drawn to the play and felt compelled to do it.
“It’s a unique and modern look (on Christ’s story). It sets on the head ideas we have about certain cultures and gives us a fresh perspective. Unless we’re careful, we miss an opportunity to think what it means to be part of a global society,” said O’Hagan.
O’Hagan has done one-person shows previously and finds them challenging.
“I much prefer to work with other actors but this story is just so incredibly important today. There’s a progression that Satan goes through and he learns some very interesting things. That journey happens for him so it makes sense for it to be a single actor,” said O’Hagan.
He acknowledged it’s an unusual play for the Christmas season.
“It’s not “Christmas Carol but it reaffirms and realigns what is important about the holiday season,” he said.
O’Hagan, an associate professor of theater at Principia College, has worked professionally as an actor and director for numerous companies including Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Boise Contemporary Theatre, and Portland Repertory Theatre. In contrast to the diabolical Satan, he most recently played the brilliant and iconic Sherlock Holmes in St. Louis’s Insight Theatre Company’s new production of “Baskerville: A Sherlock Homes Mystery.”
Tickets are $10 for students with a valid ID on any evening. Regular admission is $15 on Thursdays and $20 on Fridays and Saturdays. Tickets can be purchased at the door or follow the link at http://www.jacobyartscenter.org/tickets. Seating on risers and is first come, first seated. Doors open 30 minutes in advance.
About Bankside Repertory Theater
Bankside Repertory Theater’s mission is to provide the audience with a healing perspective into their lives and the world around them; to encourage engagement with the arts as an essential element of a good life; and to provide quality theatre productions that are affordable and accessible. The company’s members include Geoff Callaway, Sue Ellen Coughtry, Caleb King, John O’Hagan and Chrissy Calkins Steel. Various guest artists join each production.
About the Jacoby Arts Center
The mission of the Jacoby Arts Center is to nurture and promote the practice and appreciation of the arts through education, exhibits, cultural programs and community outreach initiatives. Jacoby Arts Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Jacoby Arts Center is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
Jacoby Arts Center, 627 E. Broadway, Alton, IL 62002 / 618-462-5222 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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