What if the Bible were written for Twitter?

What if the Bible were written for Twitter? October 24, 2011

That’s the audaciously clever premise behind one of the plays commissioned in London to mark the anniversary of the King James Bible.

The New York Times has more:

God’s terse first line in the Book of Genesis — “Let there be light” — was ready-made for the Twitter generation. If only the rest was as crisp, the British novelist Jeanette Winterson recalled thinking, as she began to reckon with that first book for a new theatrical project on the King James Bible. And then it hit her: Maybe God’s wisdom would crackle for a modern audience as Twitter posts of 140 words or less.

Exile from the Garden of Eden? “First eviction! Adam and Eve out. Jews homeless till 1948. God-followers down the ages can now land-grab with a clear conscience.” What to make of God’s unpredictable wrath? “Shame about Lot’s wife. She looked back. I turned her into a pillar of salt. Sometimes I wonder about myself.” Which one was Sarah? “R.I.P. Sarah, kvetchy wife of Abraham. She was the Joan Collins of the Old Testament.”

Ms. Winterson’s work, “Godblog Twitter Feed,” is one of 66 short plays, poems and songs that the Bush Theater in London commissioned and is now producing — under the umbrella title “Sixty-Six Books” — to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Each of the works, which run from a few minutes to 20, is described as a response to a book in the Bible, with no dramaturgical limits placed on the contributors.

This allowed the caustic playwright Neil LaBute to create some of his most depraved characters yet for the Book of Job, while the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury and a respected poet, contributed a quietly funny, moving piece on death and grief in response to the Bible’s shortest verse — “Jesus wept” — in the Gospel According to John. There is work from a protest musician (Billy Bragg), a Tony Award-winning pop lyricist (Tim Rice) and an international array of playwrights (like Moira Buffini, Christopher Shinn, and Enda Walsh) too. Theater critics have generally been enthusiastic about the plays, which are being performed in batches as well as in 24-hour cycles through Saturday, with particular praise for its ambitious scope.

Read more.

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