A month of reckoning The Civilians collaborate with CC students in an inquiry on evangelical faith
By Christina A. Roller
If diversified religious viewpoints are investigated through documentary theater, according to Tom Lindblade, "it's bound to ruffle some feathers."
The professor and chair of drama and dance at Colorado College hired The Civilians, a professional New York City theater company created in 2001, to work one-on-one with students from his Topics in Drama class and create a show within four weeks. Through performance and music, the production aims to illustrate the myriad of religious viewpoints in Colorado Springs, and the nation.
"Colorado Springs is sort of an intensified microcosm of what is going on in the country as a whole," says Steve Cosson, artistic director for The Civilians, who tour internationally throughout the U.S. and U.K. "The idea for the show goes back to the 2004 election and the increasing profile of the evangelical movement, as well as the idea that there was a great divide in the U.S. between the religious and secular.
The Civilians have immersed themselves in the Springs since June, collecting testimony from a wide variety of sources, ranging from mainline protestant churches to The Freethinkers of Colorado Springs. But only during the past month have five of the visiting troupe's professional actors collaborated with 14 CC students for a final staged production, titled Save This City.
"Our students are excited," Lindblade says. "They're all hittin' the pavement, running around; they're involved with the production."
Lindblade says the project aims to give students the experience of working with members of a professional theater company, to teach them a different way of making theater and involve them with the surrounding community.
The troupe was recently visiting New Life Church gathering testimony for the project when Mike Jones, former male prostitute, attended for the first time since exposing Ted Haggard for "sexual immorality." This topic will not, however, be the basis of the documentary.
"There are a lot of different worlds co-existing in Colorado Springs that are separate from each other and sometimes bump into one another," Cosson says. "The goal of the project is to recreate these experiences within the community on stage.
Though Cosson and Lindblade agree that Colorado Springs is a prime location to delve into the subject of religion, the show itself simply reports observations made.
"That's part of the beauty of it thus far," says Alex Hesbrook, ac CC junior involved with the project. "It's been as unbiased as possible."
The Civilians will later debut a larger show on the topic in New York City.
"Shakespeare said, 'Hold the mirror up to nature,'" Lindblade says, "but people want to see their nature, not somebody else's nature."
"I'm hoping that everyone relates to a part of it and that everyone's enraged by a part of it," Hesbrook adds.
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