MORE THAN 16,600 VIEWERS JOIN FELLOWSHIP FOR PERORMING ARTS’ ONLINE THEATRICAL PRESENTATION
Viewers Joined the Event from all 50 States and 40 Countries
NEWS SOURCE: Southside Entertainment
New York City – Aug 14, 2020 – Fellowship for Performing Arts’ first-ever online theatrical production – a virtual dramatic reading of its nationwide hit play Martin Luther on Trial – drew 16,637 views from 12,472 people who registered to see the event, which took place Aug. 2-4.
“FPA’s mission of creating theatre from a Christian worldview to engage a diverse audience was severely impacted by COVID-forced theatre closures that will last into next year,” said FPA Founder and Artistic Director Max McLean, who co-authored the play. “We were eager to be producing theatre in some way, but none of us were prepared for this kind of response.”
The event drew viewers from all 50 states and 44 countries.
After a successful New York premiere marking the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Revolution, Martin Luther on Trial toured the country in 2017 and 2018 and earned enthusiastic audience and critical response.
The New Yorker called Martin Luther on Trial “Brave and Brilliant . . . Unusually Well-Acted.” And TheaterMania cited it as “High-Quality Challenging Theater.” D.C. Metro Theatre Arts said it, “Bristles with Laugh-Out-Loud One-Liners!”
The virtual reading featured most of the original New York cast recording their parts from home on a video conference conducted by the play’s Online Director Christa Scott-Reed. Subscripts introduced characters and scenes.
“Not only did we not know how many would join us,” Scott-Reed said, “we didn’t know if our audience would appreciate and be engaged by an online play reading – even with the creative flourishes we added. But the enthusiastic response from over 5,000 post-show surveys made it clear they did indeed ‘get it’.”
A few of the hundreds of positive responses include:
- “This far exceeded my expectations! I actually cried when Luther came to terms with God’s justice in Christ. Very well done!”
- “When I first logged on and saw the format, I did not think it would hold my attention. But it was so well written, well acted, biblical and creative that I remained completely engaged.”
- “What a blessing during this time of Covid for those of us craving scripturally based theatre!”
The action takes place in an afterlife trial for the soul of Martin Luther . . . at Lucifer’s request. This fantastical courtroom drama features Hitler, Freud, MLK Jr and Pope Francis as witnesses, a reenactment of Satan’s rebellion and his failed attempt to enlist Michael the Archangel! All this along with a thorough examination of Luther’s life and his loving relationship with Katie Von Bora.
Martin Luther is among history’s most complex characters. His Ninety-Five Theses, nailed to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, split the church and opened the Bible to the masses. He also maintained many controversial positions the stir passionate debated today, more than 500 years later.
Martin Luther on Trial examines all facets of the life of the man who literally changed the world.
Scott-Reed’s online direction was based on the original New York production directed by Michael Parva. The online event’s cast included Christian McTaggart as Luther, Paul Schoeffler as Lucifer, John FitzGibbon as St. Peter, Mark Boyett as St. Paul, Hitler and others, Jamil A.C. Mangan as MLK and others, and Kersti Bryan as Katie Von Bora.
The event was a benefit for FPA and drew hundreds of donations, primarily from the over 4,000 viewers for whom this was a first experience with the New York-based theatre company.
“In our survey, we asked whether the audience wanted to see more of this type of production while theatres are closed,” McLean said. “The answer is a clear yes.”
FPA expressed its gratitude to the performers’ unions through Theatre Authority Inc. for their cooperation in permitting the artists to appear on this program:
ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION
AMERICAN GUILD OF MUSICAL ARTISTS
AMERICAN GUILD OF VARIETY ARTISTS
Martin Luther on Trial:
A Virtual Presentation
Produced by Fellowship for Performing Arts
Max McLean, Artistic Director
630 9th Avenue, Suite 1409, New York NY 10036
Written by Chris Cragin-Day and Max McLean
Ken Denison, Executive Producer
Online Director Christa Scott-Reed
Original Stage Director Michael Parva
Production Coordinator Dan DuPraw
Jamil A.C. Mangan
Aruba Productions, General Management