Early Days of Godspell

“I went home and realized what I wanted to do with the Gospels: I wanted to make it the simple, joyful message that I felt the first time I read them and recreate the sense of community, which I did not share when I went to that service.”

—John-Michael Tebelak, bookwriter and original director of Godspell

Check out this excerpt from the Godspell creator’s 1975 interview with Dramatics Magazine (you can find the full interview here).  Along with the excerpt are some great links that illustrate not only Godspell‘s origins, but its original production and the addition of “By My Side” in the La Mama production.  Did you know that “By My Side” was originally written for a play called “Marigold and Elkin”?

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The Rebel Jesus

“Jesus’ political climate is our political climate, and therefore we must not forget the revolutionary reality of our religious roots.”

Rev. Starsky Wilson of St. John’s United Church of Christ in St. Louis

There has been a lot of debate over what Jesus would think of various contemporary social issues.  In St. Louis, and many other cities, that question has brought people from churches out to protests.  Godspell emerged out of a time of civil unrest and an active struggle for social justice, and its reflections on Jesus as a rebel—carving his own path and upsetting the religious status quo—remain topical.  The connections are there without having to venture far from the Gospels themselves.

Have lovely holidays, with whatever religious or social significance you prefer, and keep an eye out for more thought-provocation and context as we approach Godspell in the new year!

(I don’t believe that the song functions as a generalization against all Christians, but rather as a social critique; however, this is the internet, so here’s an opposing point of view!)

What do Burning Man and Godspell have in common?

Among the 10 Principles of Burning Man are some that connect directly to our show:

  • radical inclusion
  • radical self-expression
  • communal effort
  • participation
  • immediacy

While not one of the ten principles as written in 2004, revelry is also an important part of Burning Man that connects to one of Tebelak’s inspirations for Godspell, Harvey Cox’s Feast of Fools.

Here’s a talk from TEDxTokyo on Burning Man:

Spirituality & Community-Building Through Burning Man


Burning Man creates a city in a desert every year that lasts for a week, and then is completely removed. Among the many structures that Burners erect for the week of Burning Man each year are temples. The Huffington Post looks at ten years of temples and the spirituality of Burning Man that they reveal.

It’s an hour long, but this panel is full of great discussion of the different ways that Burning Man, and groups influenced by Burning Man, create and nurture communities.