It took several years to pull people and resources together to make this happen, but now we have launched. The Drama Club at Southwestern unites people from a range of trades–acting, directing, writing, budget management, dramaturgy, crafts, costuming, marketing, commentary, research, outreach, and more. With original officers of President Kara Tisher, Vice President Katherine Buie, Secretary Thomas Wreay, Treasurer Matt Broker, and Media Director David Turner, the Club answered a compelling call to improve our Christian witness in culture at large. We believe history reveals the long legacy of Christian messages and purpose in the creative arts, from painting to music to drama. Of these drama holds a special position because of the ranging impact of movies, television, and theatre on twentieth-century culture. We want to be involved in producing better culture than what currently exists. We also want to make sure that as Christian content producers we can benefit from all the crafts and techniques that come from the broader industry of theatre. We reject the notion that Christian creativity must confine itself to directly Biblical themes or to safe and wholesome topics. Our reading of Philippians 4:8 is that truth, excellence, honor, and dignity make for a praiseworthy focus of our thoughts and talents, to include the discovery of timeless truths in painful subjects such as suffering, failure, temptation, strife, or the struggle against evil.
Our first play, The Lady and the Girl, will deliberately confront difficult issues. One source for the play is the autobiography of Elizabeth Keckley, entitled Behind the Scenes. Keckley was a freed black woman who befriended Mary Todd Lincoln in an often stormy and fraught relationship both professional and personal. As Southern Baptists we have heard the persistent calls for racial reconciliation and acknowledge the denomination’s historic roots in slavery. We see as well the common interest in addressing the experience of women in our denomination. Lastly, the revelations of widespread sex abuse and cover-ups in the Southern Baptist world, as discussed in recent Houston Chronicle articles, show us the need to tackle questions of exploitation and power that we have long deferred or ignored.
As a team of writers, we have assembled a script for the Lady and the Girl, which seeks to represent the turmoil and charity in Keckley’s close friendship with Lincoln. Mary and Lizzie’s struggles both need careful attention if people are to understand the complex realities these women’s lives reflect. We have decided not to shy away from Keckley’s painful description of sexual abuse or the racial oppression from which Keckley emerged. Nor have we opted to play down the particular challenges Mary Todd Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckley faced as women. But our goal has been to write a play about people and personal relationships, rather than about identity groups and politics.
In the end we hope to provide people with a two-hour theatrical experience from which they can learn a great deal, in particular, the Christian virtues of hope, faith, and love.
Over the next year, we will be sharing our research and commentary as we pull together the moving parts for The Lady and the Girl. We will seek interviews and research to bring alive the lost intricacies of nineteenth-century America. And we hope to bring glory to God’s children in the process. Please join us!
Until He Comes,
Robert Oscar Lopez, PhD
Faculty Advisor, Drama Club at Southwestern