Training Theatre Artists to Make a Difference
M.F.A. in Playwriting Candidate Rebecca Dzida discusses her upcoming thesis production.
I grew up Catholic and still practice today. I’ve heard about Mary, and Joseph my entire life. (Heck, Mary and Joseph are even family names.) But the thing is, I don’t think I’ve ever really thought of them as real people but more as these archetypal figures. Mary is always depicted as demure, and as for Joseph— well, there really isn’t much about him. When I lived in Memphis, I was part of this young adult faith-sharing group at my church. One night we read the gospel of where they lose twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple. The story usually centers on the young Jesus’ maturity and intelligence, how he speaks to the elders and impresses them with his knowledge of scripture in the temple, but I got to thinking more about Joseph and Mary and what it was like to raise Jesus. Not only is it terrifying to lose your child, imagine the extra pressure if you lose the Son of God. That’s how Preggers, or Parenthood for Virgins was born.
I kept thinking about Jesus’ parents and what they had to go through in raising the Son of God. Catholicism teaches that Jesus was both divine and human, so Mary and Joseph probably had to deal with preparing for his destiny as well as changing his diapers. Fr. James Martin visited CUA in October and spoke about Jesus’ humanity. He said, “Jesus was an honest to God human being,” which means he had flesh and blood, sexual urges, maybe fell in love, had friends, got sick, and gets tired and frustrated with people. If Fr. Martin says this about the Son of God, why shouldn’t we apply this to Jesus’ earthly parents, as well?
Mary and Joseph would’ve experienced all of this. An arranged marriage brought them together, so they had to learn how to be married to each other on top of raising this kid who was probably a little weird. And if that’s not hard enough, they were refugees, forced to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem to Egypt then back to Nazareth again. They were homeless (remember that stable?) and had to work hard to put food on the table. After all, Joseph was a carpenter and probably performed other manual labor. Yes, they raised the Son of God, but they were also regular parents, and there is dignity and beauty in the everyday regular things.
Because of this play, I can’t help but constantly think in terms of pregnancy and parenthood. The process of writing a play, in itself, is like that, too. You get an idea. It’s just a little zygote. It gestates for months (and even years). Then you give birth to your idea when you finish that first full draft of the script. Your play is actually a living breathing thing. You hope that you can stage and produce your play, a process akin to raising a child. You nurse your child and take care of it, help it find its legs. You’re not the only person involved in your play’s life. It truly takes a village to help it grow. There are designers, a director, dramaturg, actors, and more with input as to how to raise your kid. Most of it is sage—they’ve all pretty much been through it before. I admit, sometimes you think to yourself, “Who are they to tell me how to do this?” But all these people contribute to the maturation of your play.
You just hope that your child will become a fully productive entity, can stand on its own, and bring some good to the world—something every parent wishes.
To purchase tickets for Preggers, or Parenthood for Virgins, visit http://drama.cua.edu/