CHURCH & STATE
The Bardstown | March 3, 2020
Nominated for 'Best New Play' by the Off Broadway Alliance Awards, Church & State is a fast-paced dramedy about faith, politics, and “The Twitter.”
Kentucky's Exclusive Production!
It’s three days before Charles Whitmore’s Senate re-election and he’s decided to finally tell the public exactly what’s on his mind, no filter. What could possibly go wrong?
(No Senator's were harmed in the making of this play.)
“A crackling script! I wish every member of congress could see it.”
This play began as a germ of an idea shortly after the shooting massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007. I went to UVA (Virginia Tech's “football rival”) and the images on TV of candlelight vigils by Cavaliers for their rival Hokies touched me profoundly. Then Tucson happened, and I watched the news, riveted and angry. Then Aurora. And I watched again, riveted and angry. Then Newtown. And I'd had enough. A month later, in January 2013, I had a first draft of what would eventually become Church & State. On paper, the topics of this play (religion, guns and politics) seem heavy. But a heavy drama about heavy topics doesn't interest me. What interests me is a play that gets to the heart of the people around these issues. And when you write about people, you can't help but let them be funny and sad and honest, heartbreaking and uplifting all at the same time. Because isn't that what being human is? And because of that, I don't think this play works without the humor. And the humor doesn't mean anything without the heart. To me, comedy and tragedy are not two ends of a single line, but two points right next to each other on the same circle.
While most writers hope that their work will live forever, my dream for this play is that it will become obsolete. And many years from now people will read it and think, "How quaint! Americans used to argue about gun control." But as the news incessantly reminds us, these mass shootings are not going away any time soon. They have become our new normal. Orlando was a stark reminder of that. For now, I hope this play raises questions, sparks debate, makes people laugh, cry, and laugh while crying. And of course I hope it moves people in some way. Perhaps enough to take action with their voice and vote and bump the needle ever so slightly in the conversation about gun violence. But most of all, I hope this play speaks to your heart. Because, for me, that's the only reason to write anything: to speak to each other's hearts.
- Jason Odell Williams, June 2016