“Church and State” at Cotuit Center for the Arts
WatermelonAlligator Theatre Company presents “Church and State,” by Jason Odell Williams, at Cotuit Center for the Arts’s Black Box Theater February 13 through March 1. Performances are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 PM and Sunday at 2 PM. Holly Cipriani directs.
“Legislators face a tough task, balancing citizens’ rights against public safety concerns. This play does not provide pat answers. To the contrary, the playwright has penned a work that,hopefully, may stimulate thought and discussion about this divisive issue,” said Cipriani.
In the wake of a devastating school shooting at his son’s elementary school in Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S. Senator Charles Whitmore (played by Garrett Olson) makes an off-the-cuff comment to a reporter (Christopher Smythe) that goes viral, calling into question the conservative Republican senator’s stance on guns and God.
It’s just three days before what he had hoped would be his re-election. His devoutly Christian wife Sara (Stephanie Clark) and liberal Jewish campaign manager Alex Klein (Jess Wilson) try to contain the damage, as the play presents both sides of the gun debate.
A “serious comedy,” “Church and State” is simultaneously funny, heartbreaking, and uplifting in its examination of how religion influences politics and how politics has become a religion.
The Los Angeles Times wrote, “’Church and State’ is surprisingly subtle and gripping entertainment.” NPR stated, “This is a powerful, often humorous, and highly contemporary piece…. The play has several surprises, four fascinating characters, and so many lines that resonate.
Williams was inspired to write “Church and State” after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012 and the 2007 mass killings at Virginia Tech, a football rival of his alma mater, the University of Virginia. The play premiered in Rochester, NY in 2016 and was performed in Los Angeles in 2016, where it won three Ovation awards, and off-Broadway in 2017.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Williams talked about the power of the theater to present opposing arguments and encourage people to think, talk to each other, and to take action. “I’d like people to be moved by the story, by the characters,” he said. “I’d like them to talk about faith and politics and maybe be energized to support some of the great anti-gun violence organizations that we’ve partnered with.”
Tickets are $20, $15 discount for members. Cotuit Center for the Arts is at 4404 Route 28 in Cotuit. For more information, visit www.artsonthecape.org or call 508-428-0669.
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“Church and State,” by Jason Odell Williams
Cotuit Center for the Arts, Black Box Theater, 4404 Route 28, Cotuit
February 13 through March 1: Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 PM, Sunday at 2 PM
$20, $15 for members