11 June, Presentation
Here is how the independent journalist Slavi Genchev described the event:
John – the Son of Thunder
The premiere of the Musical “John the Son of Thunder” took place in “Osvobozdenie” cinema on June 11 2012. This is the latest project of the Christian art association “The Musical”. Its main goal is to promote and strengthen Christian values through performances with biblical content, as well as, through other visual forms of art.
On the picture the director Anton Radoslavov acquaints the audience with the work of the team on the Musical.
The Musical took my breath away – literally overflowing (from the first to the last scene) with acting, dialogues, songs, dances, light and sound effects. It came into my mind that I had not expected to see such a spectacle in Bulgaria which contains 3 elements: an ambitious idea, high artistic achievement for this genre and a successful artistic realization.
The action starts on the island of Pathmos where the old apostle John remembers his life.
The struggles of the young John in search for the true meaning of life, his conflicts with the religious system and his encounter with Jesus the Messiah reveal the choices which every man is faced with. The premiere of the complete performance is planned for the end of 2012 (at this point the first 3 parts of the Musical are ready and the team are working fervently on the last, forth part).
The actors and the entire team are young and ambitious people. There are not more than 5 or 6 professional actors among them, singers and musicians (by the way the music and the songs are performed live); the rest are amateurs who act and sing with such fervor, taste and inspiration that this completely compensates for the lack of professional training. (I would also think that people, who are simply professional actors wouldn’t have coped better with the difficult parts, which require not only an acting gift, but also singing and dancing abilities to an even higher degree.)
But all this, in fact, is not the most important thing in this case... The most important is the idea of Anton Radoslavov – playwright and director of “John – the Son of Thunder” – the idea to present the life of John – the son of the fisherman Zebedee and the brother of James; John who wrote the last of the four Gospels, as well as the Apocalypse. Why the apostle John? Because there are dramaturgical elements in his poetic Gospel, which have just been waiting to be “singled out” and displayed, shared the director after the performance.
Even though in the Musical the act follows the original Gospel story, at times the author has gone out of the box and indulged in some artistic and stage liberties. These do not hamper in any way the “historical” truths. On the contrary, they allow for people and events that may or may not have met in the historical reality to come within the scope of the stage chronology. What is achieved through this is unity of time, place and action. And let us not forget the allusions to contemporary life during the performance: high – speed trains flying on the video wall embodying human life and its slashing flight; every once in a while a confident woman’s voice warns that….. the yellow line is not to be crossed.
The yellow line… The yellow line embodying Prohibition, Restrictions, Law, Order, Nightmare – such are the things which John rebels against and hasn’t accepted since his childhood. Even though he is being deterred by his brother, his mother, his father, the high priests, St. Andrew (the Protocletus) and his brother Peter, John incessantly asks difficult life and philosophical questions about Creation, about God, about “the role” humans play, about Sin. When the Messiah appears (not well accepted, (not) understood, (not) recognized by many), John is the one who is best prepared to follow Him in His Way.
The play is not heavy, even though it lasts almost two hours, without its forth part. However, I am convinced that it will be a great success and I can foresee a long stage life on the theatre stages, where it is planned to be shown to a bigger audience.
The Musical abounds in humor and light, mundane dialogues in which high philosophical, religious and human truths are presented in the most natural, inobtrusive way. For a spell, one forgets that it’s all about biblical and Gospel scenes because they are freed of their inherent religiosity and have become common values: freedom of choice, the (non-) adherence to postulates (such as: “it has been predestined so”, “it has to be that way”, “nothing can be done” and the like.)
For this reason, the truths presented in the play sound both true to their original time and relevant to today’s life. It is for that purpose that the roman soldiers are wearing modern, almost military or police uniforms (at the same time, they are wearing leather mails and are armed with shields and spears). Pilate lashes at John with the words: “So you are against the government?!” With Jesus’ coming on stage some proverbial scenes follow, which the Messiah uses to spread His teaching among His disciples and followers. In this sense, I would define the whole performance as a comprehensive life proverb, about the right to have a choice, about a non-conformist attitude towards the status quo and towards the conventional. It’s about growing to embrace a certain idea, a cause, a Mission. A special treat is the humor exuded from certain characters, such as John, James, Andrew, Cassius (the chief of the Roman guard), Mathew (the tax collector) and others. The whole play abounds in humor and irony which greatly assist the perception of the action. They also achieve another important effect: they make much more acceptable the obvious actualization of topics and plots that were relevant even 2000 years ago.
The part of the young John is played by Chris – the son of my friend and singer-songwriter Victor Makarov, who plays the part of Zebedee – the father of John. The part of Caiaphas is entrusted to the actor and singer-songwriter Todor Yankulov, who joined the project as an actor after his enthusiasm was stirred when watching the performance of the first part of the Musical in 2011.