On the Saturday before Easter, my son and I had the time to go see a couple unique plays in St. Louis. One has already finished its run, but “Staging Old Masters” is still playing this weekend. The shows are free on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons at the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, which is down the street from Sheldon Hall. On their website they describe how the play came to be: “the Pulitizer [Foundation for the Arts]…in collaboration with Prison Performing Arts, Washington University in St. Louis, and Employment Connection—becomes home to an innovative theatre program in which former prisoners & formerly homeless veterans use the exploration of art and theatre to help develop skills for their future lives and employment.” For more specifics about times and location go to the following link:
During the evening the audience walks from painting to painting, and at the same time gets a glimpse into the perspective of each of the actors, as they creatively perform their response to the art. Many of the paintings depict biblical themes. It was an evening of being confronted with the transforming grace of God through art, as well as the various responses that we as humans have to the artists’ depiction of such lofty and lowly themes, such as heaven and hell. The struggle we as humans have with the “seven deadly sins” is the climax of the evening in the closing scene of the performance. In reality three perspectives are intermingled- the original artist, the performers and yours as a member of the audience.
I was struck by timeless theme of human need for divine intervention, as it was communicated through the Old Masters to the performers and then ultimately to me. The poignancy of the program lies in the fact that the performers themselves admit their personal struggle with temptation, and are living documentaries of how grace moves us away from ourselves into the redemptive love of God.
My son enjoyed it so much that he took a couple friends back last weekend. I hope you have time to check it out this weekend.