Picture the scene. Fifteen actors and a two hundred and fifty strong audience. They sit on the edge in anticipation around a circular arena, readying themselves for a night of discovery. A scruffy looking guy in a plain white shirt dunks another guy. Then suddenly, a deep voice announces over the audience, “This is my Son who I love. With him I am well pleased”.
Welcome to Mark Drama – the story of the world’s most interesting man. It’s where 21st Century audiences witness miraculous signs – demons are defeated, the sick are healed, the inquisitive find answers – “Who is this man?”
Suddenly a ratchet girl, unsteady on her feet, stumbles in. All but one cowers away. “Unclean!” they cry. “Unclean!” Ignoring their warnings, the strong One embraces her. Only he is able to cleanse her of this infectious, repugnant leprosy. Everyone is stunned at his ability, asking “Who is this man?”
Suddenly, a storm hits. The rain is heavy. The wind is howling. Somehow, the actors turn on a convincing tempest. Meanwhile, a small fishing boat is flailing under the waves. “Don’t you care if we drown?!!” they cry, shaking the sleeping One awake out of desperation for their lives. His voice commands silence. All is calm.
“Who is this man?”
I sat in the front row during CBS’s recent production of the Mark Drama. It was an unmissable experience. From the calming of the storm, to the feeding of the 5000, this story gripped me like never before.
During the picnic with the 5000 I am mischievously asked if I prefer bread with sesame seeds or not. Then I’m suddenly thrown into a vineyard parable where thugs beat the One at my feet. I then turn at the sound of jeering sarcasm spitting from some hecklers at the back – “As if there’s life after death, Jesus!” But he defies their logic with their own theology – “I am the God of Abraham. I am the God of Isaac. I am the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead but of the living! You are badly mistaken”.
But when his friend betrays him, I wondered… He’d been so powerful over the demons, so powerful over the waves, so powerful over the dead. But as he’s seized, beaten and dragged before priests, kings, and governors he looks weak and pathetic. A crown of thorns is burrowed into his head as the crowd chant incessantly, thirsty for death. Who is this hated man?
Boom! A nail pierces his hands and feet. The cries of agony echo throughout the room. The space is suddenly overshadowed in darkness. A feeble voice splutters, “Why!?… Why have you forsaken me?”
Avoiding spoilers, this drama asks lots of questions: Who is Jesus? Is there really life after death? Is it true?
At the end of the performance, our main director, Warren Chan, leaps to his feet and asks everyone, “Who is this man?”
If you’ve not seen The Mark Drama, you must. For some, you’ll be challenged to consider who Jesus is. For others, you’ll be filled with thankfulness to God. For others, it’ll simply be an entertaining evening. This isn’t a traditional stage drama. This is a re-enactment of how God came into the world to save sinners.
Photo: Cast and Crew of Mark Drama at New College, UNSW. Picture: Samuel Collis-Bird
This article was first published in Mark Drama Australia. A longer version of this article will be published at a later date.