A One-Man Gospel Show

A One-Man Gospel Show

IREPM's Michael Corso brings the Book of Mark to life on the stage

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Jesus' first public act in the Gospel of John is the changing of water into wine, and in Luke, arguing at the age of 12 with the priests in the Temple. In Mark, however, the Son of God makes his public entrance in the company of sinners, lining up to be baptized in the waters of the River Jordan.

Michael Corso: "The most frequent and humbling comment I have heard following a performance is that in the very human portrayal of Jesus...a person encounters the divine in Jesus."

This depiction of a Jesus allied with flawed humanity resonates with Michael Corso, '84, MA '90, coordinator of continuing education and supervised ministry at the Institute of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry, and has inspired him to create and perform a one-man show based on the Book of Mark.

During the past four years, Corso has given more than 150 performances of "St. Mark's Gospel: The Message Comes Alive!," directed by Rev. Robert VerEecke, SJ, Jesuit artist-in-residence at Boston College.

He performed at a retreat for Malden Catholic High School and for the New Hampshire Bible Society earlier this month. Future performances include the 75th anniversary celebration of Canada's national shrine to the Canadian Jesuit Martyrs in Midland, Ontario, and the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis.

Corso and Fr. VerEecke also presented the first overseas performances of the play this spring during a trip to Ireland, giving two shows in Dublin and one in Belfast.

"After every performance in Ireland, the people expressed their appreciation by hugging me," said Corso. "I had never been hugged so much after a performance as I was in Ireland - basically shattering the stereotype of Irish as not physically demonstrative. I have gotten lots of handshakes and pats on the back, but that really took me by surprise."

Corso, who first devised the show for his senior thesis as a BC undergraduate, and has gone on to present it across t he United States and Canada, memorized the entire Gospel of Mark for the approximately one hour and 45-minute play.

With a cross, a few boxes and pieces of cloth as props, Corso plays Jesus, the disciples and those they encounter, while recruiting members of the audience to play other characters from the Gospel.

"Jesus' ministry is not just to sinners, but it is to sinners from their side of things," Corso comments in an essay at the Boston Theological Institute World Wide Web site [www.bostontheological.org].

"Jesus does not set himself up as separate from and over against sinners. He calls them to conversion as one who stands in their midst. His, then, is truly a ministry of reconciliation. He immerses himself in our human condition, binds us back to God, and, in so doing, brings about the very Reign of God he proclaims.

"The most frequent and humbling comment I have heard following a performance is that in the very human portrayal of Jesus (it is difficult to play Mark's Jesus any other way), a person encounters the divine in Jesus. Jesus' very humanity reveals him to be God's Beloved Son."

For more information, or to schedule a performance, contact the artist at michael.corso@bc.edu.


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