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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, March 5

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« See Potential's First Project Launches Comedian Marlon Wayans' A Haunted House: When Horror Meets Hilarity »

Theater Tue Dec 11 2012

Brotherly Love Theater Company Breaks into the Chicago Scene with 13 to 30

The life and times of Jesus Christ the Nazarene was quick and efficient; we're perpetually reminded that his conception and birth date rearranged the forces of nature and physics, and his golden years from age 30 to 33 were spent multitasking as social activist, political muckraker, necromancer and miracle worker. But Jesus was not the founder of Christianity -- that was the Apostle Paul, whose one and only meeting with Jesus could never be confirmed, and who opened up the church doors to the Gentiles, thus ensuring that Christianity would be the exclusive faith of Gentiles in perpetuity.

13-to-30 wonders aloud "What Did Jesus Do?" from the age of 13, the last time he was publicly seen, to 30, when he comes out of hiding, picks twelve men of varying spiritual and emotional challenges, and spreads his ideals throughout the Middle East. Our intrepid attendant explains that he often wonders when gazing upon his "WWJD" bracelet how Jesus got through his "awkward" teen years, what challenges Jesus faced as a young man. Was Mary the Central Casting construct of a Jewish mother -- overprotective, too proud, self-deprecating for the sake of her son? And was Joseph the best (step)dad ever, winningly, albeit awkwardly, filling in for God the way Mike Brady filled in with Marsha Jan and Cindy? Was Jesus as embarrassed by his inability to control his budding super powers as he was with controlling the physical and emotional changes in His human body? Was Jesus traipsing about and exploring the Silk Road and the Far East? Did he meet Buddha and crib his notes? What about Schrödinger 's Cat -- did Erwin Schrödinger crib Jesus's notes?

The troupe kindly presents and ponders these theories, but the reality is, they'll remain merely questions -- maybe the answers are buried in those missing Dead Sea Scrolls (the Bible is thought to be 63% incomplete by scholars). What has always been a mystery remains -- where was Jesus for 17 years? Why didn't his "real" father reveal him to the world? Was his "real" dad even around? (My theory has always been Jesus's real dad probably wanted Jesus to have some part of a "normal" childhood before sending him to the Big Show).

13-to-30 is a kindly and good-humored production, but it's a "believer's" passion play, and how one's beliefs are structured will determine if you "get" this message. As a practicing Roman Catholic, quite comfortable with the recognition and personal responsibility of free will and culpability blended into my blind faith, I kinda' didn't get it. There are several scenes where our protagonist is challenged in his belief and faith by non-believers. This rang hollow and more than slightly dishonest -- it is not Christians and non-believers currently at one another's throats, but "Christians" and those of us "not Christian enough." It's no longer enough to believe in the Holy Trinity, or "do good works" in spite of our human shortcomings, as Christ requested. Besides, what good is "faith" and "belief" in anything, including Christ, if those two items are not constantly challenged by external and internal sources?

Our protagonist looks at his "WWJD" bracelet and asks, "What would Jesus do?" Well, Jesus's to-do list was quite simple: "Feed the poor, house the homeless, tend to the sick, care for the young, old, weak," challenge and condemn the greedy and the hypocrite, do unto others... The instructions were simple, but the execution of Jesus's commands can be downright Hell to pull off. "Make me good, Lord, just not yet..." -- even St. Augustine recognized the great burden of being a follower of the word of Jesus Christ. And no matter how many times we look upon our dollar store amulets, unless one is willing to follow the word of Jesus into deed and action, accepting the sacrifices of our material and social comforts, then the Gospel of Jesus is nothing more than antiquated instruction guide.

The next (and final) showing of 13 to 30 is this Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7:30pm at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets are $15; to purchase tickets call 773-598-4549, visit or visit

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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