On April 17-19, the Pulitzer Prize winning drama entitled “J.B.” was presented in Wyneken Auditorium on the campus of Concordia Seminary. The cast and crew were composed entirely of seminarians, spouses, children and staff members from the Concordia Seminary community. The presentation was directed by Dr. Dean Nadasdy, a professor who occupies the Gregg H. Benidt Memorial Chair in Homiletics and Literature at Concordia Seminary.
The drama features the biblical account of Job, portrayed by a wealthy and upright man (named “J.B.”), his wife (Sarah), and their children. The audience follows the demise of J.B.’s children and his possessions while actors portraying God and Satan offer observations on the reactions of J.B. and Sarah to the devastating losses that occur in their lives.
“You’ll find most of the major unsettling issues of Job in “J.B.,” commented Dr. Nadasdy, “how denial, anger, and conflict take over in loss, even with those we love; how God may seem distant and detached when questions of justice are raised; how would-be comforters feign wisdom and fail utterly; and how God, by sheer divine fortitude and grace, stays God in our lives even when we feel as if we’re living at the bottom of a bombed out crater…We belong where people suffer and ask big questions. The questions of J.B. will come again in our ministry with those who hurt.”
The performance on Sunday, April 19, was followed by a reaction to the major themes of the play, offered by Dr. Paul Raabe, a member of the Seminary’s New Testament Exegetical Theology department. This reaction session allowed audience, cast, and crew the opportunity to discuss the penetrating questions posed by “J.B.”
This dramatic presentation is the first in the Concordia Seminary Theater series. “We hope to stage two productions a year, always on themes relating to faith and ministry,” commented Dr. Nadasdy as he described his plans for the future of the series.
“J.B.” is one of a few complete American theater pieces in poetic form. It brought its author, Archibald MacLeish, a Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1957. MacLeish died in 1982, but left a legacy of poetry which probes the mysteries of human existence.
Further information regarding the Concordia Theater series may be obtained from Dr. Dean Nadasdy, Concordia Seminary, 801 DeMun Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63105; 314-505-7145.