Behold, I am sending forth many fishers, says the Lord, and they shall catch them. (Jeremiah 16:16)
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make youfishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
At noon the Church of the Epiphany, on this the long anticipated Date with Destiny on which we’re told the Fate of Almost All depends, is strangely free of angst. The good-sized crowd is here to see a choir perform Cantata Eighty Eight and hear Johann the angel Bach relate a snatch of puzzling Bible history: God is at first an angry fisherman who hunts in righteous wrath our sinful kind but then Christ stoops and speaks, wrath is undone by love, reality is redefined, Ohio pales, the stained glass glows blood red, the hapless fish are named, called, calmed and fed.
When he wrote Oliver Twist in 1837, Charles Dickens had a cause: he was protesting the harsh and unjust treatment of children in England. His depiction of the situation was searing—more so than the best-known movie adaptations.
Great plays tend to make mediocre movies. The elements that make a play successful don’t always provide the plot and visuals that are the keys to memorable cinema. Complicating matters further is the fact that theater is, by design, dialogue-heavy. The screenwriter who plans to cram long monologues or extended dialogues into the script is doomed.
Place a stone in the palm of your hand; it lies there, inert, nothing but itself. It revels in its stoniness, its solidity. It gathers light, rises from the plains, a mountain in miniature, notches and ridges carved by weather, strata and stria, the pressure of time, the rough places, planed. A climber might try for the pinnacle, looking for toeholds in cracks and crevasses. The way up is never easy. The air thins. From the peak, the horizon falls away. Borders are meaningless. The stone rests in your hand. It sings its one long song. Something about eternity. Something about the sea.
So that things contrary to common sense Seem suddenly truth revealed And some unappealing sight Is clearly Imago Dei, devilishly alight As though lit within at core By the very darkness we abhor And symbols of my soul’s best hope are cast As models of betrayal, despair and death; Then, Eve’s fruit tasted and offered to Adam Becomes Mary’s Gift as First Fruit Of a new covenant of pardon And the abandoned Garden Because of Him Becomes the New Jerusalem;
So, let that mind be also in me, The one that takes in my off-stage acts, You know, Those walk-the-walk naked facts, Even my sneaky judas-pacts And transforms them all Into something nothing short of new, Like being born, Like out of any godforsaken Friday Easter morn.
When Toni Morrison taught creative writing at Princeton University, all her students had been told in previous classes to write about what they knew. She said to forget that advice because first, they didn’t know anything yet, and two, she didn’t want to read about their experiences. She told them to imagine people outside their own experience, such as a Mexican waitress in Rio Grande who could barely speak English. It was amazing what these students came up with, Morrison said, when they were given license to imagine something outside their realm of experience (American Theatre, March 10).