The Play’s The Thing

Dramatic productions on Fundy U Campuses always create an odd tension as people who like to believe that 1950’s America is the gold standard for all things godly are forced to grapple with the realization that people didn’t always dress, cut their hair, or do their makeup the same way Jimmy Stewart did.

On the one hand, they tacitly admit that standards of dress are culturally relative — otherwise they’re forcing their students to sin by dressing up in costumes that don’t meet the dress code in the rule book. On the other hand, they simply can’t admit that their own culture has long since moved away from preferences and that fighting the culture wars of the 1960’s is no longer a good use of their time.

(And in case anybody wonders, I have no problem at all with the costuming here. These guys are rocking it.)

125 thoughts on “The Play’s The Thing”

    1. Ah crap, you just sent me back to Bible Conference my freshman year…thanks friend, Thanks for that.


      1. “Aida”? OK.
        By coincidence, that was the first opera I ever saw, back when I was in about 5th or 6th grade.

        My guess was that the picture was from a production of “The King and I.” I was also guessing that it was NOT at Bob Jones U., given that the central matter of that play is an interracial romance. Come to think of it, that is “Aida’s” theme, too.

  1. So THAT’S what Bill Gothard is doing now that he has been fired!! It’s commonly known that he wears makeup but the shaved head is something new.

    “Where God closes a door, he opens a window”

  2. Some plays also require something called “choreographed stage movement,” known to the rest of the world as “dancing.”

    (BTW, this is one reason why some of the IFB-X churches think BJU is so “liberal.” They hate BJU’s involvement in fine arts, literature, and drama. )

    1. As one fundy girl once told me, “As long as one foot is firmly planted on the ground it’s not dancing.”

      1. Look up Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope” video and see what she would think about it 🙂

      2. In the Gothard program we were taught that vertical movements to music are okay, but horizontal movements are sensual and therefore dancing.

        1. Why don’t Fundies make love standing up? Their neighbors might think they are dancing.

        2. Hey, who knew that Gothard was a (cultural) punk and was in favour of pogoing.
          I am probably the only person here old enough to remember pogoing – jumping up and down on the dancefloor.

        3. Catherine, pogoing is not dead (and yes, I do remember when it was the new thing). A couple of weeks ago I saw some college-aged people doing it, and also moshing (remember moshing?).

      3. I’m not entirely certain how you can dance without having at least one foot on the ground most of the time, but perhaps if I were more worldly I’d discover the secret of levitation too.

      4. Back in the sixties, we had a rift in our church after several girls at a youth group party were “hand dancing”. A brief fad of the times, they were seated, not moving their legs or feet, but moving their hands in time to the music that was playing.

        1. Hand dancing? That’s nothing! At PCC, students often make eye babies! Now that’s something!

          Then again, Jesus did say that if your hand offended you to cut it off! Did any of those girls get close to being single-handed in their lives and purpose?

        2. Bag, was that Gene Krupa- the drummer who played the matches? I never saw him before (though I’ve heard the “bus rant”).

        3. Yes, I believe that is Gene Krupa handling the matches. Gene Krupa and His Orchestra are listed in the movie credits as playing “themselves.”

      5. That girl should see some Eskimo/Inuit dancing (the people who do it call themselves Eskimoes in Alaska and Inuit or Innuit in Canada).
        The traditional style mandates keeping the feet on the ground throughout the dance (and it’s definitely called “dancing”).

        Here’s a Point Hope, Alaska elder performing a traditional dance:

        1. This is meant to be a comment on the “It’s not dancing if one foot stays planted on the ground” doctrine.” It got separated from the original remark.

        2. BG, I’ve been to Pt. Hope many times. Can’t say I recommend landing at their airport in bad weather (and the only way there is by air). The runway runs across a narrow spit of land protruding into the Chukchi Sea. Any miscalculation can result in a crash onto the pack ice (winter) or ocean (summer). Interesting village–some believe it’s the oldest continuously inhabited community in N. America, perhaps 12,000 years of human habitation.

          The Tikigaq Traditional Dancers have their act together. There are strict role differences between male and female dancers, regarding the feet staying stationary versus moving.

        3. I haven’t been to Point Hope yet, but I know some Innupiaq people from there. I met them at various Native Alaskan events in and around Fairbanks.

        4. I was never in Fort Wainwright.
          My brother teaches at the University of Alaska, so I’ve been to Fairbanks many times to visit.

        5. UAF is a good school. Our sort-of-unofficial granddaughter has been accepted there for this fall. I think that book you recommend is about Project Chariot, which is still a (justifiably) sore issue with the Inupiat people in that area. About 22 years ago, the borough police were considering building quarters and having a police officer at the Chariot site 24/7 rotating in and out every 2 weeks to keep people away. That never materialized. (I should order this book.)

        6. I think Project Chariot was the name. It was Edward Teller’s pet project for a while– to use hydrogen bombs to blast an enormous hole in the northwest Alaska coast to create a deep-water port for large cargo ships. Who was going to use this port in a place with no roads going to it and a population of under 1000 people, where the sea is frozen for about half the year, was never explained. Alaska bigwigs loved the idea, though, and several state and university employees were fired for opposing the plan.

      1. @Fundy Madness,

        1. This was during a fire alarm (can’t remember if it was a drill or real) late night. I can’t remember if it was in the middle of the night or just after 10:30 (curfew for you non-Fundy people), so the kids weren’t expecting too much trouble about shorts.

        2. Any visible students were given 25 demerits, with the front two or three students receiving 50 demerits each. And the guy who posted it to facebook got 50 D’s also.

        3. Took a while for me to find it, but I did:

        4. Because it was the Harlem Shake, a meme that lasted only as long as any other meme. Nothing Fundy-specific about it I suppose, although maybe Darrell can make something of it now.

    2. Maybe I’m being unfair, but I don’t see how people who think that most music, all dancing, most literature, and anything intellectual are works of Satan are going to have a meaningful arts program.

      1. I was going to link to the video (an SFL classic) where Jack Schaap discourses on his favorite books. But FBCH has apparently purged it from the Interwebs. If you can find it, it’s hilarious (in a super-creepy sort of way). It’s as if a kindergartener tried to give a lecture on high-energy physics.

    3. Oh man, that’s what they called it for main stage plays at PCC, too. Dramatic Productions plays were a little less stodgy (mostly b/c of the teacher in charge), and the word “dancing” was actually used. haha

  3. I think the real issue that those costumes are probably made of mixed fiber, a direct violation of Leviticus 19:19, “thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.”

    1. BJU already started letting girls wear pants off campus several years ago while I was there. They’ve let them wear pants/shorts for athletics, work, and back campus areas a lot longer than that too. They’ve definitely not taken a “pants are completely evil” position, at least not anytime in the recent future that I’m aware of. As far as I know all/most of the female administrators and administrators’ wives wear pants too. Definitely not in the HAC camp.

      1. Oh my gosh…you beat me to it. LOL.

        I love the way it’s done on the original Broadway soundtrack for Showboat. But this version’s cool, too.

        I just couldn’t bring myself to post the version where the little girl sings it, surrounded by cabaret sex kittens. Too weird.

    1. Well, if they can present the Gospel in four-part harmony complete with synchronized hand movements they might have a chance.
      I sort of miss the Hare Krishnas at the airport.

  4. The founder of my fundy-lite alma mater Grace College did not believe that play-acting was acceptable. He preached that it was a sin because you are lying with your actions by pretending to be someone you’re not. Later I took a theater class in a chapel named after him!

    1. I heard similar “logic” against the evils of acting. I think the guy I heard brought in the idea that the original Greek word for hypocrite was the word for actor.

      To which my brain went, “So? Everybody knows actors are telling a story & playing a part, not trying to deceive anyone.”

      1. Yeah. It’s not “deception” when there’s no attempt to deceive.

        It seems the real fear here is fear of empathy. Acting requires you to at least try to imagine what it might be like to be someone else, or to have desires you don’t have, and being able to even consider alternate points of view can undermine years of brainwashing.

        I’m surprised that fiction is not banned under the same “logic”. After all, an author is making up people who don’t exist, and getting into their heads well enough to write them.

        1. uh, sometimes it is. Seriously. I had fundy friends who were not allowed to read, watch, listen to or write fiction in any setting for this reason.

        2. Sad. In my opinion, it’s stifling the imagination. The imagination of children is a powerful resource for crafting the mind and remaining creative later in life. So sad.

        3. Wow. So do they have some sort of edited gospels, that remove all of Jesus’ parables?

        4. your error was in assuming that there was any connection to the Bible

          Also, don’t you know that the Bible is to be taken literally? I actually had a preacher boy at college tell me that Jesus was relating actual stories because he never would have spoken fiction.

          There’s really no limit to the scope of Poe’s law – I would post the mathematical proofs, but there’s just no need.

        5. I don’t see how it’s deception when you don’t represent a story as fact, and everyone knows it’s make-believe.

          Do these people think you shouldn’t sing “Amazing Grace” unless you’ve literally been cured of blindness?

        6. “I don’t see how it’s deception when you don’t represent a story as fact, and everyone knows it’s make-believe.”

          That doesn’t stop Fox Noise from claiming to be fair and balanced.

    2. I have heard the same arguments against reading fiction. That is, they said it was spreading lies.

      A note of interest: I used to have a very old tract-booklet, the kind with several pages, card stock cover, stapled in the middle. The topic of this was the evils of paperback books.

      The thrust, IIRC, was against the dime novels of the era. But the irony was too much.

      I haven’t seen that booklet in years. My wife may have discarded it. But if I find it again, I will send copies to Darrell to post.

    1. Any and all Airplane™ references must first be run past me in the cockpit.

      After further review, this reference is acceptable.

      And yes I remember, I had the lasagna.

      1. That movie and The Jerk always lifts my spirits on a rainy day. I will make sure I seek your blessings in the future.

  5. Better than my high school. We did plays, but it was rarely ever an actual play. The “costumes” were always the same–different colors of the same traditional dress–not actual costumes. There was once where they did theater in the round and a Charlie Brown thing, but that never happened again after they discovered that the drama teacher was gay. He didn’t last any longer there. He was such a good teacher, and I wish he could have stayed longer, but standards… [nausea]

  6. When my brother went to Grand Rapids Baptist, they did Fidler on the Roof. I remember him saying they cut the “dream” scene because it had to do with ghosts. They also cut some of the dancing.

    1. Grand Rapids Baptist is now Cornerstone University, a decidedly non-fundy college. They have dances, theatrical productions, secular music concerts, etc. An amazing variety of clothing styles, hairstyles, piercings, musical offerings, etc. Two of my kids have gone there. It has not damaged them. In fact, my daughters have matured into wonderful young women who can think on their own and have decided to follow God anyway. Go figure. How is it possible that a Christian University can allow their students many freedoms and expose them to many ideas and still have them turn out to be sincere God-followers with their own convictions that don’t need to be “enforced” by anyone else?

    2. Did all the male characters in “Fiddler” have Baptist crew cuts and clean-shaven faces?

    3. Love the movie, but as I get older and my chilluns become adults, I find that I can’t watch it without weeping in many scenes. The most tear-jerking of all has to be when Tevye says goodbye to Hodel at the Train depot as she leaves to marry Starsky.
      BTW, happy 50th anniversary to Fiddler since it’s premier in ’64. Oh, yeah, and A Hard Day’s Night, too

  7. I miss artist series. Not the scramble for a date and the obligatory 3 roses from Bi-Lo, but the plays were terrific.

    1. Me, too! I mean, I had a permanent date, but what I really miss are the concerts & plays. Granted, they weren’t always what I would’ve chosen, but I can’t afford to go to theatre shows now.

      Also, were you there when the Vienna Boys’ Choir was there & one of them (as part of an operetta) flipped the bird at another character? The oxygen was sucked outta the FMA when everyone gasped simultaneously, then the fire alarm mysteriously went off & everyone was evacuated.

  8. Guys in dresses….one has his arm around the others and the one on the far right is leaning in against the others. Do they approve of this activity at a fundy college? Maybe we should call in David Cloud to investigate.

    1. “I thought there was a long tradition of puritanical aversion to the Wicked Stage, predating modern Fundystan.”

      Yes. Fundies (different theological branch from IFB’s but same mindset) shut down Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in 1642, and it was torn down two years later. They also opposed contemporary Christian music, aka church organs, and went on jihad against them as well (taking axes to a number of cathedral organs).

  9. I know this isn’t related to the post, but I wanted to share that today I cut the last cord binding me to the IFB Movement. I talked to my former pastor about why my family is leaving.

      1. Naturally he was saddened by our departure and the conversation was a bit heated at certain points when we discussed certain doctrines, but the phone call ended graciously.

    1. Let me be the first here to congratulate you! And I see you took the high road letting him know why you left. I wish you all the best and hope you find what you are looking for.

  10. Isn’t “Wicked” pretty much a gay campfest?
    I haven’t seen the play, but I know it’s hugely popular in the gay community.
    (Not that that’s a bad thing.)

    1. Disclaimer: I haven’t seen Wicked in its entirety. (I know!)

      But it’s basically a prequel to The Wizard of Oz. I think it’s popular in the gay community because Elphaba is viewed as evil because she’s different & makes choices that are true to her values, even when they are go against convention.

  11. Wow great pic! I remember Mephistopheles from my time. Light & rose petals from above when he made it into Heaven at the end!! Whatever your opinions they can do opera…

    1. You’re right. BJU can do opera. BJU helped foster a love for the opera with me, and I attend the opera regularly to this day (just not at the alma mater). The pics of the set at Aida look first rate.

    2. I remember Mr. Mephistopheles from the Peoples Court (Jon Lovitz, SNL)

  12. There’s a blog out there of a guy named Remonstrans who REAALLLY doesn’t like much theater, if I remember correctly. He thought Maranatha had compromised horribly becuase they did “The Importance of Being Earnest”. According to him, ‘earnest’ was an old-timey way of saying gay and since Oscar Wilde was known for that then Maranatha was liberal.

  13. OK, confession time. I was one of the children in “Cheaper By The Dozen” my freshman year and instead of high black socks to wear I got: black ladies’ hose. They only came up halfway to my hiney so I was always trying to hike them up further throughout the production nights!

    1. In the college productions that were set in knee-breech and hosen times, the guys definitely wore ladies tights for their costumes. Also ladies pumps.

  14. My husband remembers Aida from his college days back in the late 80’s early 90’s. He says they “danced” then, too. He didn’t like it because Verdi isn’t his cup of tea but also because it didn’t make much sense to him.

  15. Those costumes are fantastic.

    And yes, as a member of the Speech Department, I often found the incongruity of the exceptions granted for realistic theatre productions sadly amusing. In graduate acting, I believe it was, I was working on/performing a Rosalind monologue from As You Like It, which, for those not in the know, is a role involving a girl who disguises herself as a man. In order to help me really get the right performance, I ended up wearing knee-length shorts (not cullotes, but guys shorts) for the workshop and final performance. Yeah. Totally broken dress code in a classroom performance. It was weird.

    And that doesn’t even touch on the fact (pun partially intended) that performances had to include co-ed touching. *gasp* Bless their hearts.

  16. I’m pretty sure I recognize the guy in the middle. Would be really embarrassed, except he’s pretty cool. Too cool for there at least.

    A really good friend of mine also goes to BJU (they never thought through those initials, did they?). You want to know when I’m most embarrassed about knowing people who go there? When she uses #blessed and #spoiled to describe her experience at BJU.

    It’s a shame. They do have a really good drama department and I’ve been on their campus to sit in on some classes. If it weren’t for all the rules, I think I’d thrive there actually. 🙁

    Maybe I’ll go to Northland International when they get their heads out of their arses about homosexuality. Wonder how far I’d get with an e-mail to them about that since they’re finally seeing reality in other areas. >.>

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