Ecclesiastes as a one-man show

In Meaningless, Rodney Brazil brings Qoheleth to life.

I have always wanted to see the look on Qoheleth’s face. An innovative thespian on a spiritual quest recently gave me that chance.

A colleague from the theater department at my university had told me that someone was doing a monologue of Ecclesiastes at a local fringe festival. I was excited in a way that betrays my particular nerdiness about this topic. I bought a ticket to Meaningless and sat up front, eagerly waiting to finally meet the sage, whom I had been studying for so many years, in person.

As a scholar of Ecclesiastes, I tend to refer to the book by its Hebrew title, which comes from the name of its purported speaker and author, Qoheleth, and means something like “assembler,” “teacher,” or “philosopher.” I can talk to you for a whole semester about text-critical issues, historical context, translation dilemmas, literary analysis, and debates over dating. That’s not what this show was about. Instead, it immersed me in the mysterious beauty of this harshly realistic book.