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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

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He is alive Important note to self: never again try to play this role. It is His alone ….

For two weeks straight, I have been accused, cursed, spat upon, lied about and bruised by kicks.

From now on, chastises Screen Three, you’ll know better than to portray Christ in Easter plays.

“You talked me into this,” I growl, though I confess that, at first, Three’s idea seemed perfectly reasonable.

Really, comments One, all our ideas do, until you try them….

“You will be tackling one particularly difficult song as a soloist,” cautions Mary, the play’s director. She and I both know a gifted canary I am not. But the rest? We’re simply re-telling the Resurrection. While it is a great honor, how tough can that be?

“You’ll be whipped,” Mary continues. “Richard has worked out a way to make the scourging scene realistic.”

Boss, whispers Five, some details here might be a good idea.

Richard – you met all 6 foot 7 inches of him once before, in the Philippine jungles – is the executioner. He tells me the leather whip (comprised of many lengthy, thin strips of rawhide but without the merciless metal and bone shards of the original) will appear to strike me with back-shredding blows but actually will snap on the post against which I lean.

Awesome! claps Six. Practice! begs Four.

We do. Richard pops that post repeatedly, never once striking my back. I grow so confident in his acting abilities that I tell him to “dial it up” when he and the Roman guards pummel me prior to the crucifixion. Richard looks uneasy and reminds me he alone is a certified black belt in martial arts. Other cast members are not.

It is time to practice the torturous Cross scene. Though special effects will convince viewers nails are driven through my wrists and feet, I stand upon a tiny, almost unseen block of wood that bears the whole of my weight.

Or does until this practice, notes One.

The hardwood foot rest splits. I fall upon the chicken wire-and-paper mache “boulder” beneath me, bounce off that into a two-by-four with exposed nails (one of which jabs my calf), then perform a half-twist flip that ends with a thump on the unpadded stage.

Even the Russian judge gives you a 10, assures Olympics-minded Six.

There is a gasp – far more audible than those soon offered by audiences – as actors rush to me with shouts and prayers. Amid the noise is an apology: “Thought the wood was solid when I built the foot rest. Thought it would hold.” I look up and see the shamed face of a friend who is costumed as one of Easter’s most wicked characters.

I shout Screen Three’s moment-rescuing phrase. “Who let Judas work on the Cross?”

ScourgedThe opening night finally arrives, flowing smoothly until I step to the whipping post. With the first stroke, executioner Richard realizes the whip is tangled and shortened. His glance at me signals trouble, but we cannot stop the play. Grimacing, he administers 18 body-warming lashes, my shocked shouts lending sincere realism.

Moments later, I understand Richard’s earlier concern about unskilled men participating in my beating. Their inaccurately gauged and ill-timed kicks connect, punches pummel, and slaps sting.

Then, without anyone’s help, I harm myself. Moments from bursting free of my burial tomb, I lose direction when lights are cut intentionally to heighten my dramatic entrance. Desperately leaping forward just as lights come up, I exit the tomb but smack my noggin on the header beam –

At least that wood is solid, confirms Four.

– and stagger dazedly into the brightness of the resurrection.

“Hey,” whispers front-row guest to pal, “Jesus almost knocked himself out.”

At play’s end, I bid my disciples farewell and begin to ascend into the clouds. However, the machine covertly lifting me jams, nearly throwing me off the fast-rising platform. I catch myself – a miracle in itself, considering my lack of balance – utter final words of comfort and look Heavenward as I climb, climb, climb.

Where, o where, is the final curtain? moans Three.

PAscendinglatform lift still jerking wildly, I nervously smile astride a bucking bronco. Backstage, some quick thinker skips the methodical lowering of curtains, which are neatly gathered in the loft above me, and simply throws them down.

My way.

Sewn inside the curtains for weight and theatrical effect, a 20-foot-long, two-by-eight pine board kisses my face, lightly blackening an eye, heavily splitting a lip.

Just eight more performances, sighs One in funereal tones. But Six counters by saying, Still nothing compared to what He went through. We can do this, Black.

“I’m NOT sure I can do this.”

Encouragement arrives the next night in the backstage waiting room. It comes cutely packed in the form of a tiny youngster clad in ancient Hebrew garb. Moments before she, I and 50 other restless characters pour out onto the stage for our opening scene in the village, this little girl boldly walks up and wordlessly takes my hand, giving it gentle squeezes.

I look down into an untroubled face that smiles, eyes aglow. “Blackie,” she says softly, glancing toward the stage, “let’s make this fun.”

We do. The Easter message roars forth with power and promise, in bruising black and blue …

And life-changing red.


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Postscript: Rehearsals for the presentation provide the entire cast with untold moments of bloopers and blunders.

Not all of them are yours, encourages Screen Two.

Elderly Pat is to come out onto the stage, slowly and carefully “feeling” in front of him as he laments his inability to see.

The character of Jesus steps forward, speaks gently and miraculously heals the man’s blindness. Pat exclaims, “I … I can see! I was blind, but now I see. This Jesus has healed my eyes!”

According to the script, Pat should continue his excited exclamations as he exits the stage. Over-eager, however, he trips on the steps and falls flat on his face. Pat covers his crash by quipping, “Jesus, heal my legs!”

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This Hallelujah goes even deeper than you might guess

The Doobie Brothers voice their musical opinion