Ellen & Barry Levine
Cindy & Stephen Snow
SAMUEL D. HUNTER
BAY AREA PREMIERE
STARTS November 8
- In The News
- Program Notes
Winner of the 2011 Obie Award for Playwriting, Samuel D. Hunter’s A Bright New Boise is an unexpected dark comedy about faith, family and the importance of making human connections. In the break room of a Hobby Lobby craft store in Idaho, the seemingly innocuous Will applies for a job. No one knows he has recently fled his rural hometown after a scandalous tragedy involving his fundamentalist church. Will doesn’t particularly want to work there but he is a man on a mission – to bond with his estranged son before the impending Rapture. By enlisting the aid of his new co-workers, a group of eccentric characters also struggling to find their way, can Will succeed in winning the trust of his son before the end of the world?
Runtime: Two hours including one intermission
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Stage and Cinema
The Blue Review
GWEN LOEB* - Pauline
ROBERT PARSONS* - Will
DANIEL PETZOLD - Alex
PATRICK RUSSELL* - Leroy
MEGAN TROUT - Anna
KIT GRIMM - Hobby Lobby Video Man #1
JOE KEARNS - Hobby Lobby Video Man #2
TOM ROSS - Director
SAMUEL D. HUNTER - Playwright
STEPHANIE BUCHNER - Light Designer
MICHAEL CANO* - Stage Manager
RICHARD OLMSTED+ - Set Designer
MATTHEW STINES - Sound Designer
MICAH J. STIEGLITZ - Video Designer
MAGGIE WHITAKER - Costume Designer
MIA BAXTER - Props Artisan
by Josh Costello, Literary Manager
"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (New International Version)
According to the Pew Research Center, 41% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ will have returned to Earth by the year 2050. That's well over 128 million people. Books in the Left Behind series (novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins that imagine what happens on Earth following the Rapture) have sold over 65 million copies and inspired movies -- including an upcoming mainstream release starring Nicolas Cage -- and video games. Clearly the idea of the Rapture holds a prominent place in the American imagination.
The idea that a group of believers will be taken bodily to Heaven, while everyone else is left behind to face chaos and war on Earth, came to prominence in America in the 19th century. John Nelson Darby, an itinerant British preacher, traveled the US and Canada spreading his interpretation of the Bible. He may have originated the idea of believers being taken up in a "secret rapture" before a 7-year period of Tribulations. He used obscure passages from the Bible to chart the events of the coming Tribulations, including wars, plagues, earthquakes, and Armageddon -- the ultimate battle against the Antichrist, a figure of evil with ties to Satan who is expected to rise up and seize control of humanity in the wake of the Rapture. The Scofield Reference Bible, which was first published in 1909, further popularized these views (as well as the idea that the date of God's creation of the Earth could be determined at about 6,000 years ago).
One reason these ideas became so popular is that the established structures of the Church didn't get to say who would be called up to Heaven. Membership in the Church didn't guarantee access to Heaven -- corrupt members of the establishment would be left behind along with all the heathens and nonbelievers. On the other hand, if your faith was pure and your commitment to Christ genuine, you would be called up regardless of your relationship to the Church. In A Bright New Boise, the character of Will believes that he is one of those who will be called up. This idea, that personal faith is paramount, is important to Will and to millions of people in part because it gives individuals the key to their own salvation.
The Evangelical Protestant movement in America grew from this seed. Helping to water the plant are people like David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby (a chain of big-box arts and crafts stores). Green was described by Forbes as "the Biblical billionaire backing the evangelical movement." According to its website, Hobby Lobby is committed to "honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical principles." Hobby Lobby was in the news recently for its court battle against the US over providing emergency contraception in its employee health insurance policies, and for its policy against carrying Hanukkah-related items alongside its large selection of Christmas decorations.
Like Will in A Bright New Boise, playwright Samuel D. Hunter is a native of northern Idaho. "When I was younger I knew a lot of fundamentalist Christians," he says in an interview for TheatreJones, "and I went to a fundamentalist Christian high school for a time, so it’s always been something I’ve been interested in. Fundamentalism occupies such a large part of the American consciousness, but very little of our art. So I like to explore what it’s like to live with these beliefs in a constantly modernizing world."