What would certainly Jesus do? before it became a bumper sticker, it to be a timeless theological question. And, in a legacy dating ago to middle ages passion plays, the was also an actor’s question. In an ext recent times, musicals choose “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Godspell” placed Jesus on the Broadway stage. In 1977, Vinnette Carroll walk the same, with “Your arms Too short to Box v God,” a music retelling that the Gospel that Matthew. Carroll composed the script and also directed the an initial production. Alex Bradford and Micki give penned the music and also lyrics. All 3 creators to be African-Americans. Their musical commemorated the legacy of African-American gospel music—and the human being behind the music. In a Broadway first, Carroll’s gospel musical had actually an all-black cast. In a Sarasota first, West coast Black Theatre Troupe has brought Carroll’s groundbreaking musical to that stage. What’s the story behind it? manager Harry Bryce to be happy to share the good news.

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Director bother Bryce worked for years with Vinette Carroll, and also stayed true to her vision.

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

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

In various other words, Jesus doesn’t look choose a blonde white surfer native California?


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

No! (laughs) I’d prefer to include that Carroll’s unique type of storytelling was also a hit of genius. She drew on the ancient concept the the Greek chorus. The singers reaction to Jesus’ struggle and sacrifice, both individually and collectively. They talk about his story, action by step. Lock speak come each other — and also directly to you. The pulls you into the story. When they’re moved, you’re moved. You feeling what they feeling — and also it touches you. You’re no a spectator who have the right to safely hide. You’re component of the story.

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

Well, yes and no. Carroll’s title derives indigenous a sermon in a novel through James Weldon Johnson. The underlying notion is that boxing through God is hopeless. Friend can’t even lay a finger ~ above God! That’s like a featherweight trying to hit Muhammad Ali. It’s a fight us can’t win. Also so, we’re tho fighting Him all the time. Human beings don’t realize they’re fighting an infinitely higher force. It’s stupid, futile and self-destructive. Fighting God way fighting ourselves, because the heart of God dwells in all of us. We’d finest put down our boxing gloves and take on the spirit. I would certainly say that’s the point.

What result does this musical have on people?

It has a extensive effect. I’ve never ever left a performance where the audience wasn’t fully moved and also sometimes changed.

What’s her directorial vision because that this production?

Above all, i strive to remain true to Vinnette Carroll’s initial vision. I spent 23 years v her and also studied both her an approach and faith-based perspective. I honor both she staging and also storytelling ideas in my approach at the Westcoast black color Theatre. I especially honor the light the she shed on the contributions of civilization of shade to the story that faith. Carroll revived our rightful location in this an excellent gospel story. We should own that. That’s my vision. If that’s what the audience takes away from ours production, I’ve made my vision clear.

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