Ben Watson, the other Jesus Christ Sterrett, a former forklift technician and now a supervisor of forklift technicians in Arlington. Jesus is a role he loves to play, he later tells me. On a good night, he says, he hates to leave the stage. fc The Promise: p Potter, Olive Vendor #1, Olive Vendor #2, Baker, Baker’s Apprentice #1, Baker’s Apprentice #2 , Bread Thief, Fish Monger, Zealot Arms Dealer, Seller of Lemons, Seller of Dried Apricots, Seller of Fresh Apricots, Seller of Peaches, Sellers of Cherries #1, Seller of Cherries #2, Seller of Grapes #1, Seller of Grapes #2, Seller of Limes, Seller of Rope, Seller of Belts, and Seller of Dung.The Seller of Dung part was created by the properties department, after a batch of dark rolls made for the Baker were found to resemble animal excrement. Properties Mistress Priscilla Locke told me that the actor assigned the part was delighted to be playing the Seller of Dung, but when I asked him directly, 12-year-old Josh Gordon wrinkled his nose. “I don’t really like it,” he admitted. inety-seven paid actors and thirty-nine volunteers make up this year’s cast of The Promise, which is now in its thirteenth season. Most of the actors and technical crew live in the area and hold other jobs: auditor at the Best Western, electrical maintenance technician at Comanche Peak, teacher, retired airline pilot, Southwestern Bell service representative. Many return year after year, auditioning in April, rehearsing in May, and performing every weekend all summer long. Despite the large group and tight schedule, it was seldom that I heard Humphrey or one of his assistant directors raise his or her voiceand the exceptions had a certain charm: “Let’s go Jesus! Let’s go Apostles! You’re late!” Many of the performers are deeply committed to the show. I was told that the 5-year-old who plays Jairus’ daughter \(a dead girl two. Other children I spoke with had auditioned for four and five years before making the show. One of several adult actors who explained their roles to me quite fervently was Mary Lou Shaw: “During the crucifixion scene I’m one of the mourners,” she said. “I am just as afraid to be there as the next mourner. These people could put me to death. I cry real tears there because I’m trying to get Scripture in motion across this moat into as many lives as His spirit can touch.” The cast breaks down into smaller bands, the most visible and cohesive one being the group of older men who play the Sanhedrin. They sometimes refer to themselves as the Sanhedrin and sometimes as the are the ones to condemn Jesus in the play. For a Christian, they say, beating up on Jesus can be trying, even if it is just an act. “As actors we try to get the audience to suspend disbelief,” says David Clinkscale, a college history instructor who plays the high priest Caiaphas. “But for us, it’s suspension of belief.” At rehearsals, when they’re not running through one of their scenes, the Bad Boys hang . . . right away I was pretty sure he must be Jesusnot just because he looked like you might expect an American Jesus to look, but because he gave off a strange sense of calm a Jesus might be expected to give off. 716101 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
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