Reflections on David Rambo’s God’s Man in Texas
At the Taco Spot after a production meeting at the Playhouse, I ran into a couple I hadn’t seen in 13 years.“I’m directing the next play at the Playhouse,” I said, by way of explaining why I was inhaling fish tacos at 11:00 on a Sunday morning. “We went to the Playhouse all the time when we were teenagers – of course it was a movie theatre then,” they said. “We haven’t been there since. We’ll come and see it! What’s your play about?”
What’s the play about?
I told them it was set in a Texas mega-church – Rock Baptist Houston the “Baptist Super Bowl.” The action plays out with only three characters: a legendary and beloved pastor, 81-year-old Doctor Gottschall, who spent the last 48 years expanding his church and adding ministries; Dr. Jeremiah Mears, his younger, potential replacement pastor, who is a highly educated, fundamentalist preacher; and Hugo Taney, a former addict and lost soul who has Jesus Wept tattooed on his behind and now works for Gottschall as a stage manager/AV technician/go-fer. Lots of potential for conflict.
Since it’s premiere production in 1999 at the Humana New Play Festival in Louisville, David Rambo’s play has been produced all over the country in big venues and small, from The Geffen Playhouse on the Westside to a tiny storefront theatre in Waxhaw, North Carolina. What keeps ‘em comin’ back to this story?
What is the play about?
I prattled on while we ate our tacos, talking about characters and situations and how much I love big church choirs and the tune “How Great Thou Art,” and I think I mentioned “fathers, faith, abandonment, lost sons, faith, jealousy, secrets, faith, broken alliances, a sacrifice, and ultimately, redemption.” I don’t think I really nailed down the “what” to their satisfaction. They left; I stayed and reflected.
I probably should’ve been able to come up with a brief explanation of “what this play means to me.” A good sound bite.
My excuse is that, like all really good and lasting pieces of theatre, God’sMan in Texas is complicated, and in order to really know what this play is about, you must experience it for yourself. Ultimately, its meaning reflects what’s in your heart – so you just have to sit out there in the dark and let it all happen to you in real time. I have great faith in the power of this play, but you’ll have to tell me what it’s about.
Nancy Youngblut – January 28, 2013