After facing protesters, bomb threats and death threats in NYC, after being denounced in Scotland by the Bishop of Edinburgh, after letters laying out how they will be shot and killed in Dallas, thousands of protests in San Francisco, picketed in Orange County, CA and millions of signatures added to a petition that has traveled all around the world demanding a ban on the play and film, 108 Productions has forged ahead and traveled internationally for six years with Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi. Now for the first time in its history, with its debut in Chicago, Illinois, the company is facing one of the biggest protest campaigns it’s received, as it releases the documentary feature Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption.
Said actor/108 co-founder James Brandon and director/108 co-founder Nic Arnzen: “We are immensely grateful to all those who have stood by us as we prepare to face a wave protests for the first time in our home town. With their support, we have no doubt that Corpus Christi’s message of God’s inclusive love for LGBT people will drown out the angry words of those who attack our play without having seen it.”
The 108 productions version of Corpus Christi, Terrence McNally’s controversial play, which depicts Jesus as a gay man in 1950s Texas, has drawn an angry response from some Catholics, as has Playing with Redemption. An online petition, based on a series of previous anti-Corpus Christi petitions by the right-wing Catholic site America Needs Fatima, has drawn over 11,000 signatures to date. The petition denounces 108 Productions’ version of the play, along with the documentary Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption, as “unspeakable blasphemy” and “prejudicial outrage.” It also calls on Center on Halsted, where the film is set to preview on Sept 29 and 30, to “immediately cancel the showing of this movie and play, and to offer a public apology to Our Lord Jesus Christ and to all God fearing Americans.” In addition, 108 Productions’ crew has received similar comments, in the form of personal emails, YouTube comments, and even harassment of Arnzen’s mother in Iowa. Accordingly, a protest outside the event is now expected, as protests have followed similar petitions for previous 108 Productions performances.
About 108 Productions’ Tour
Beginning in 2006, 108 Productions launched a resoundingly successful revival production, directed by Nic Arnzen at Metropolitan Community Church in the Valley, which was lauded by critics, continued to sell out for months at Los Angeles’ Zephyr Theatre, and went on to tour across America. In Europe, the play was an Amnesty International Freedom of Expression nominee at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and was awarded the Intercultural Dialogue Award at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival in 2008. After, the company celebrated the show’s 10th anniversary Off-Broadway at the Rattlestick Theatre, benefiting the Matthew Shepard Foundation and New York’s Gay Community Center. The show continued to tour through 2011 nationally and internationally, while a documentary crew followed their travels to less tolerant communities.
Now, six years later, CORPUS CHRISTI: PLAYING WITH REDEMPTION will host its first sneak preview screening tour, launching the I AM Love Campaign. The Religious Right meets the 'gay Jesus play' in this documentary film inspired by the play, which continues to face censorship, protests, bomb threats and religious condemnation. Mirroring the reflections of change in society today in regards to freedom of speech, civil rights, marriage equality and separation of church and state, this production has become a vehicle for a community struggling to find its voice. Meanwhile, the company of actors finds itself on a journey that would forever change their lives.
The I AM Love Campaign's mission is to ignite a dialogue on religious bullying and homophobia in all ages and walks of life by teaching self-empowerment through artistic endeavors and educational outreach. Beyond screenings of Playing With Redemption, which will be combined with performances of the play in select cities, the 108 Productions company will also conduct educational and arts-based workshops alongside gay and religious leaders in conservative communities around the country.
The Chicago Tour is co-produced by Center on Halsted and Michael Leppen and sponsored by Windy City Times.
Saturday, September 29: Sneak Preview Film Screening 2pm, Play Performance 8pm
Sunday, September 30- Sneak Preview Film Screening 12pm, Play Performance 2pm
For Mature Audiences only (16+). Contains Brief Nudity and Adult Language.
$10 film, $20 play, $25 for both