‘The Christians’ | A Note from the Artistic Director

‘The Christians’ | A Note from the Artistic Director


Bill English, Artistic Director

We are amazed by the power religious belief exerts in our world. So much good—and so much bad—has been done in the name of religion; and at home and abroad, we are dumbfounded by the power of fundamentalism to wreak havoc on our social and political institutions. What is belief? Why is it such a powerful force?

When I saw first saw The Christians at the Humana Festival in Louisville, I was galvanized by how incisively the playwright explores the thorny topic of religious belief. He takes us inside a typical Middle-American church run by an ordinary pastor who has a gut-wrenching and revolutionary vision that threatens Christianity itself. Mr. Hnath explores this revelation with care and empathy, neither satirizing nor condescending to the church or its congregation.

We all have beliefs. Even atheists “believe” there is no God. Why do we believe what we do? Often we are conditioned by our upbringing to believe. Most of us outgrow our childhood beliefs in Santa or the tooth fairy. But we believe in God, or Jesus, or Mohammed or Moses, or nothing, much as a child believes. We give over blindly to our faith without questioning. We simply “know” things are so. And we base our lives, our daily decisions, and our commitments on that “knowing.” Our beliefs become a comfort, a challenge, a curse.

What happens to us when our beliefs are challenged? When a prophet comes to say, “What you are believing is wrong”? When laws change that affect our beliefs? Or when we doubt that our beliefs are true? We are beset with fear. It seems to us as if our entire reason for being has been negated, the ground we stand on taken away, our lives deprived of meaning. And of course, we humans are not at our best when we’re afraid. Fear makes us react in anger; we hate, we strike out, we withdraw, we mourn. We can become destructive, to ourselves and others. Our communities and families can be torn apart.

We feel deeply honored to present The Christians in our empathy gym. We humans are always challenged—perhaps, at this time, more than usual—to bring compassion rather than fear to conflict and misunderstanding, to try to understand those with whom we disagree, and to look deeply and fiercely at our own beliefs. The Christians takes us on a journey into belief, doubt, fear, and prophecy so that we may learn and grow.

Bill signature_new


The following two tabs change content below.

Latest posts by San Francisco Playhouse (see all)

Leave a Reply


Diane Ciesinski - 27. Jan, 2017 - Reply

Hi Bill, we look forward to seeing you and Susi tonight if you will be there!

Bill English - 27. Jan, 2017 - Reply

I will indeed be there. Come into the Inner Circle Lounge

Jeanne milligan - 07. Feb, 2017 - Reply

Incredibly simple and powerful, so well acted, such strong continuity throughout. Very impressed and I don’t grapple with religious issues personally, but found the questions searing and important.

Robert Solorio - 09. Feb, 2017 - Reply

Bill ur scaring me! Recently had bad breakup and turned to God to help me through. Seeing play tomorrow, but you never let me down. My ex and I have enjoyed ur work for 13 years (Glory of Living).

barbara emily sykes - 18. Feb, 2017 - Reply

This play, Christians, caught my attention because the playwright is a relative whom I only know as the son of a cousin born in Detroit years ago. I would like to compare notes with him, Lucas Hnath, since the play rings a bell from a familiar family narrative.

Do you know whether the playwrght is in town or how I might locate him?

Looking forward to seeing the play tomorrow.

B. Emily Sykes (formally Nath, since my father dropped the H years ago.)