Bethel Alums Produce Unique Play

May 14, 2012 | 12 a.m.

By Alennah Westlund ’14

“Kingdom Undone” explores Jesus’ last days on earth. (Photo credit: Jeremiah Gamble)

Jeremiah and Vanessa Gamble, both ’95 grads, run a ministry called Theater for the Thirsty. The group has performed as part of Bethel’s Homecoming events in the past, but their most recent project is the new original show entitled “Kingdom Undone.” After three years of development and an original script that has gone through countless readings, workshops, and revisions, “Kingdom Undone” finally hit the stage this spring. Jeremiah Gamble, who wrote the play, describes it this way: “It's a new play that weaves earthy drama and music with the passion of Jesus' last days.”

Gamble says that he wanted to evaluate Jesus’ last days in a new way. “I decided I wanted to take a close-up look at the story– focusing on the relationships, struggles, and inner motivations of the characters,” he says. On the show’s promotional website, Gamble points out a deep contrast between how Christians and non-Christians tell the story of Jesus. He believes that non-Christians frequently emphasize Jesus’ humanity, while Christians often emphasize his divinity. “I wanted to embrace that tension,” Gamble explains, “and present the story in such a way as to invite both sides to the table, to consider the part of Jesus they like to de-emphasize or omit, and perhaps see something they haven’t seen before. Art provokes people to ask questions and challenges people’s presumptions, and I think this story, well told, can do that.”

Gamble also says that he personally learned a lot from interacting with the material throughout the production process. “I feel like the passion story and the person of Jesus Christ have become more vividly alive for me. In my research and writing, I discovered so many new moments and insights that thrilled me to the core– and I couldn't wait to share those with an audience.”

It seems that Bethel played its own small role in the show, as the production team is full of Bethel connections, including former theatre department chair Jeff Miller, director; Joy Donley ’89, co-producer; Nadine Grant Daley ’98, costume designer; and Geoff Wold ’98, lighting designer.