4 November 2009

Jesus' gender disruption...

Its amazing how people determined to be offended find out about things to grate their consciences and provoke their sentiments. The present piece of theatricality causing anxieties among candle-invigilators in Glasgow is Jo Clifford’s play Jesus, Queen of Heaven at the Tron Theatre. Part of the Glasgay! arts festival, the piece is described in the following terms in its bumph:

Jesus is a transsexual woman. And it is now she walks the earth. This is a play with music that presents her sayings, her miracles, and her testimony. And she does not condemn the gays or the queers or the trans women or the trans men, and no, not the straight women nor the straight men neither. Because she is the Daughter of God, most certainly, and almost as certainly the son also. And God’s child condemns nobody. She can only love...

All of which, to my theatrical sensibilities, sounds pretty excruciating. Lovingly opiated clerics are nauseating enough. Actors and dramatists doing symmetrical Bambi’s Mother impressions, oozing misplaced secular agape and croaking woolly inclusion promises to be equally dull. Perhaps Clifford skilfully and nimbly evades the dreariness to which theatre with a conscience and theatre with a message can succumb. For myself, unless a piece hoodwinks me a little with engaging plot and plausible characters, I’m unlikely to forgive the showy moment when the author’s conviction marches noisily onto the stage, or the writer flings their voice into a hapless character, who is reduced to parroting it and hoping nobody notices the clunk.

Thus, while I’d never heard of this piece - bored Christly souls, looking for a night out, their stockrooms bloated with the unused tallow of vigil candles - seem to have snatched up Glasgay! programmes, slumped over them and sought out something to be offended by. With greasy glee, according to the Herald, 300 of the offended stramashed into town and reportedly blocked Chisholm Street for about two hours from 6.30pm as they held a candlelit vigil outside the Tron Theatre”. Although I doubt a headcount was conducted, above the ranks of this delegation of the Almighty swung the usual placards. One literal-minded warrior of Christ carried “Jesus, King of Kings, Not Queen of Heaven”. Another seems to have interviewed God and culled the exclusive quote “God: My Son is Not a Pervert”. From the image attached to the article, these two benevolent banners peep from behind another broadly proclaiming for the Zion Baptist Church, former haunt of the departed “Pastor” Jack Glass.

A little digital exploration reveals that the Baptists have entered the secular setting of YouTube and have recorded their attempts to save dear, benighted Scotia from blasphemy here. You'll notice that the Baptists claim their crew numbered a mere 40 and suggest that their numbered swelled only to 150 before the curtain opened on Clifford's play.

Although these spittle-flecked crazies undoubtedly plumped the crowd - which from the video, seems relatively placid - the article in the Herald is quick to identify other denominations lurking in the ecstatic mob who seem to have taken a trip up the water specially, from St Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church in Greenock. A mouth opened at the Christian institute to caw that the “publicly funded” play was “further proof of an agenda to use taxpayers’ money to fund assaults on Christian values.” This being the same Christian Institute who maintains charitable status – and the tax avoidances associated – while campaigning against civil partnerships and for the retention of section 28. Fans of giving unto Caesar what is Caesar's, certainly.

Heaven knows (or is directing?) whether this “vigil” is doomed to illuminate the night outside the Tron for the whole of the piece’s run. As usual, the mouths of Sauron spout the usual material, almost invoking the hideous spectre of the moral majority, again, particularly exercised by the public penny implicated...

The Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert said: “If Glasgow’s council taxpayers were consulted, I doubt they would consider this was a good use of their money. What with this and the Bible defacing exhibit, you have to wonder what is the next outrage Glasgow City Council has planned.”

Gordon Macdonald of Christian group CARE for Scotland said: “Organisers of these events are trying to placate the gay rights lobby while riding roughshod over everyone else – at public expense.”

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church said: “Coming in the wake of the outrageous Bible exhibition, which encouraged the defacing of the Bible in the name of gay rights, the funding of another production with the provocative title Jesus, Queen of Heaven will leave most citizens of Glasgow aghast.”

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