Letter To The Oswego Players

To The Oswego Players:

Last Sunday I attended your play, An Act of God. Its director, Paul McKinney, is a friend of mine and for the last few months I’d been hearing about his process of bringing the play to life. Paul shared with me the subject matter of An Act of God, the risks involved with doing such a play in a small town, and some negative reactions he’d received from a few people who’d heard about the play. I attended a performance to support Paul, but also because I’ve had questions about God and religion all of my adult life. I entered your theatre, ready to be entertained andwith an open mind about what I was going to experience. I’m so glad I did.

There have been three or four times in my life where I’ve witnessed a play or movie, read a book or poem, or attended a lecture which has profoundly affected my life, that has nudged my way of thinking in a new direction. Watching your presentation of An Act of Godwas one of those rare times.
Certainly, An Act of Godis a well-written script. It’s funny – sometimes outrageously funny – and quick-paced. It’s topical, hitting on many subjects that are today’s lead cable news stories and tabloid headlines. And its playwright, David Javerbaum, knows his bible. Mr. Javerbaum wove hilarity, heartbreaking news and controversies about the bible into his script, offering the Oswego Players cast and crew great material. Then you Players got right to work.

With a small cast of three, the audience really gets to know a play’s characters. From your opening line, Patrick, your Archangel Michael became our voice. Creatively, Paul first had you asking the audience questions, questions many of us have about God. But as the play dug deeper into those questions, your angel Michael was asking those questions himself – and you spoke for all of us with them. I felt the urgency of your voice and the insistence of your demands. You were my voice.

Tammy, your portrayal of Archangel Gabriel perfectly captured the image many of us have of angels. Your words flowed, and in your movements across the stage I believed we were seeing an angel in the heavens, with no ground below your feet and no need for any. You filled the stage with a love of God, which made this whole premise that God was rewriting The Ten Commandments believable. Every time you spoke, I listened intently
As the play is written, most of the show revolves around God, which, I guess, is what we would have all expected. He is the head honcho, after all. Because of that, much of the weight of the show falls on the actor who portrays God.
Matt, as you introduced yourself to us, an actor portraying the Almighty, you asked us to believe that God had chosen Oswego, New York, and you to represent Him. From your opening line, I believed you, Matt. You showed us God in such a human form, with all your vulnerability, with every gesture, facial expression and vocal tone. To hold us for 90 minutes in this belief – that I was seeing a God with great humility – was a stunning achievement
All three of you took us through a series of commonly-held beliefs and questions that people have struggled with for centuries. The humor held our attention, but the truth of the absurdities and atrocities of what we’ve come to call religion was what really stuck with me. As the play came to an end, I didn’t feel anything like completeness or a conclusion. Instead, my mind was spinning as I tried to process what I’d seen; replaying scenes and pondering statements. I drove home, Googled the play, read about it, and felt hungry to discuss what I’d just experienced. Nearly a week later, that hunger still exists within me. I want to explore the ideas of the play with others. I want to bring the heavens down to earth. That’s a lot to expect of anyone…or any One.

Sitting in your theatre, waiting for the play to start, I read Paul’s comments regarding the play we were about to see. After quoting playwright Arthur Miller, who said that one of theatre’s purposes is to arouse our passion, you added this, Paul: “My hope is that as you leave the theater today you will feel neither inspired nor offended, but simply thinking.”

Congratulations to you all: the director, cast and crew of An Act of God. You sure achieved your director’s goal.

Jim Farfaglia

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