What would Jesus do? prior to it ended up being a bumper sticker, it to be a timeless theological question. And, in a heritage dating ago to medieval passion plays, that was likewise an actor’s question. In much more recent times, musicals choose “Jesus Christ Superstar” and also “Godspell” put Jesus ~ above the Broadway stage. In 1977, Vinnette Carroll go the same, v “Your eight Too quick to Box v God,” a musical retelling that the Gospel of Matthew. Carroll created the script and also directed the very first production. Alex Bradford and also Micki provide penned the music and also lyrics. All three creators to be African-Americans. Your musical celebrated the tradition of African-American gospel music—and the people behind the music. In a Broadway first, Carroll’s gospel musical had an all-black cast. In a Sarasota first, West shore Black Theatre Troupe has lugged Carroll’s groundbreaking music to the stage. What’s the story behind it? director Harry Bryce was happy come share the an excellent news.

You are watching: Arms are too short to box with god


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Director take care of Bryce functioned for years v Vinette Carroll, and stayed true to her vision.

What’s the heart of this musical’s story?

I’d speak to it one operetta, no a musical. But to answer her question, I’d say the story has two sides. The Gospel that Matthew is the story the the crucifixion — a gruesome account the Jesus’ betrayal and also suffering the ends in the triumph of his resurrection. That’s a universal story for all people. However Carroll’s gospel celebration likewise speaks straight to the peoples of Africa, and the african diaspora worldwide. She illustrated Jesus and also the Israelites as human being of color. And also they were. That’s in history accurate. Throughout the time the the crucifixion, you couldn’t tell the difference in between the Israelites, the Egyptians, the Sudanese or any type of other indigenous inhabitants that the african continent. That particular branch the the household of humanity didn’t finish at the Red Sea.

In other words, Jesus doesn’t look like a blonde white surfer indigenous California?


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Charles Lattimore Jr. Portrays Jesus in WBTT"s "Your eight Too brief to Box through God," with Chakara Rosa (left) and also Cequita Monique.

No! (laughs) I’d like to include that Carroll’s unique type of storytelling was likewise a punch of genius. She attracted on the ancient concept that the Greek chorus. The singers react to Jesus’ struggle and sacrifice, both individually and collectively. They talk about his story, action by step. They speak come each various other — and also directly come you. That pulls you into the story. Once they’re moved, you’re moved. You feeling what they feeling — and it touch you. You’re no a spectator who have the right to safely hide. You’re part of the story.

How does Carroll strategy Jesus’ character? The location is a boxing metaphor. I’m imagining a sort of “muscular Christianity.” Is the the point?

Well, yes and also no. Carroll’s title derives from a sermon in a novel through James Weldon Johnson. The underlying notion is that boxing with God is hopeless. Friend can’t even lay a finger top top God! That’s choose a featherweight trying come hit Muhammad Ali. It’s a fight we can’t win. Also so, we’re quiet fighting Him every the time. Humans don’t realize they’re fighting an infinitely higher force. It’s stupid, futile and self-destructive. Fighting God method fighting ourselves, because the heart of God dwells in every one of us. We’d finest put down our boxing gloves and adopt the spirit. I would certainly say that’s the point.

What effect does this musical have actually on people?

It has a profound effect. I’ve never left a performance wherein the audience wasn’t completely moved and also sometimes changed.

What’s your directorial vision for this production?

Above all, ns strive to continue to be true come Vinnette Carroll’s original vision. I invested 23 years through her and also studied both her technique and faith-based perspective. I honor both her staging and storytelling concepts in my method at the Westcoast black Theatre. I particularly honor the light the she shed on the contributions of world of shade to the story that faith. Carroll revived our rightful place in this an excellent gospel story. We must own that. That’s my vision. If that’s what the audience takes away from ours production, I’ve made mine vision clear.

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