Monday, August 11, 2008
knowing the mind of G*D
This is a rehearsal moment during a walk-through of "The Pastor Phelps Project: A Fundamentalist Cabaret", on the day of its opening. Outside the room, out at the corner of Queen and Cameron streets, a crowd of maybe a hundred to a hundred and fifty people were milling - some carrying banners and signs, some taking pictures, and a dozen cops to watch out for trouble. They had arrived to counter-protest a small contingent of picketers from the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka Kansas, who objected to this play, which in all fairness is a play is about them.
Outside the crowd was expecting them to arrive with signs proclaiming that God Hates Fags (that's the name of their website, if you're curious: www.godhatesfags.com ). Inside I was wondering about lighting levels and marvelling at the human arrogance of anyone who would think they understood what amounts to the basic Will of the Universe.
But I think the Bible is a cultural document, and they think it is a manual for life.
They never showed up. They were stopped at the border, and all those folks outside the theatre, in their rainbow masks and riffs on Phelps' message of hate ("God hates Me", "Welcome to Canada, Land of Sodomites", "Down with this sort of thing"), ended up staring at each other, chatting, sharing an hour doing something they believed in. Once again, having a villain brought people together in a community, made them feel good about their choices.
And we, in the theatre, were going through a different version of the same thing.