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Jeff Favorite Brings 'The Gospel of Mark' to the Stage

on March 4, 2013 - 10:12am
Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com
 
Favorite Brings “The Gospel of Mark” to the Stage
By LYNN FINNEGAN
 
An estimated 6,001,500,000 Holy Bibles have been printed. Before the Gutenberg Bible was printed in 1450, however, most of the illiterate population’s access to the Bible was purely oral: a rich Jewish storytelling tradition that grew in the homes of the early Christian church and was later professed to the populace by church authorities. 

“The Gospel According to Mark,” a dramatic one-person performance by Jeffrey Favorite at 7:30 p.m. March 8-9 at Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church, brings the beauty and richness of this tradition to Los Alamos.

Favorite’s fascination with the oral telling of Mark’s gospel has been simmering for seven years. In 2005, his highly acclaimed solo performance of “Damien” at Los Alamos Little Theatre tested both his memory and his theatrical skills and whetted his appetite for more. 

A good friend from Massachusetts, Prof. Victor Hill, mentioned a modern day trend of verbatim performances of the Gospel of Mark, and Favorite found a few renditions on YouTube

It was not until November 2012, though, when a friend at Trinity on the Hill raised the possibility of the performance as an outreach to the Los Alamos community, that Favorite took the plunge.

Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

And what a plunge it has been! Although he loves the beauty of the Shakespearean language in the King James Bible, Favorite wanted a performance accessible to all, even children. 

The drama is a verbatim rendition of Mark’s gospel from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, 2011 edition, familiar to many. Written in AD 60-70, “Mark” tells the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. 

Favorite explains, “Mark has a lot more action than in the other gospels. Jesus is always on the move. There were crowds of people around him all the time: people falling on their knees, begging to be healed, or begging for the sake of others.” 

This action is juxtaposed with moments of Jesus withdrawing to a mountainside, or getting up early in the morning, which Favorite also loves. “On the move” is a good description of Favorite’s performance. 

This is no droll recitation of 16 biblical chapters. Favorite plays the stage like a professional: pacing, leaping on platforms, wildly gesturing, gazing toward the heavens, and falling to his knees. 

While only one man is on the stage, the audience will easily feel the tension and excitement that Jesus’ presence brought to ancient Middle East culture.

Photo by TK Thompson/ladailypost.com

In his quest for authenticity, Favorite committed to memory all 666 verses of the gospel. “I can’t guarantee that my version will be perfectly verbatim, but it will be very close!” Favorite emphasizes.

How does a Ph.D nuclear engineer, with a family, full time lab position, and part time “job” as band leader of the infamous Hill Stompers find the time?

“Trying to memorize the gospel of Mark has been a challenge,” Favorite said. “There are parallel stories. And the same things keep happening – people fall on their knees ‘before’ ‘in front’ or ‘at his feet’; Jesus ‘crosses’ ‘crosses over’ or ‘goes across’ the lake several times. My family has been very understanding and helpful, except they all have their own bad imitations of me pacing in the kitchen saying lines to myself.”

Seven-year-old Luke and 11-year-old Sydney are frequent script prompters and friends and family know that car rides of any duration will include recitation practice, he said. 

Friends have made props, provided costume design and prompted at rehearsals. Ryszard Wasilewski, a frequent Los Alamos Little Theatre set designer, is painting the backdrop Favorite helped design. 

“I am deeply grateful to the REACH ministry at Trinity on the Hill for funding this endeavor," Favorite said. "I also would like to perform at other churches or venues. I pray some day it will be possible for me to travel to Massachusetts with this show and do it for my friend Victor’s Episcopal Church.”

“The Gospel According to Mark” plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday March 8 and Saturday March 9 at Trinity on the Hill Episcopal Church, 3900 Trinity Dr. (corner of Trinity and Diamond.)

Doors open at 7 p.m. (open seating) with light snacks. Adult tickets are $5 and children under 12 are FREE. For information or advance tickets, call 662-5107.


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