Living Gallery to focus on Jesus’ earthly ministry


Beka Priest kneels during last year’s Living Gallery, which portrayed the promises fulfilled by the Messiah. Photo: Photo Services

This year’s Living Gallery, a BJU Easter tradition that combines beautiful religious artwork, music and drama into one cohesive performance, will take place April 2, 3 and 4 at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., with an extra showing at 2 p.m. on April 4, in Rodeheaver Auditorium.

Living Gallery takes artwork from BJU’s Museum & Gallery, as well as other galleries, and recreates the pieces on a larger scale with live models portraying the people in the artwork. The tableaus are then incorporated into an original play written specifically for that year’s Living Gallery pieces.

This year’s theme, “Rivals on the Road,” centers on Jesus’ ministry on earth and several individuals who were impacted by His life. The characters include Saul, Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene, Caiaphas and three fictional characters: Simon, Gershon and Thaddeus.

Freshman theatre arts major Wilbur Mauk, who will play Saul, said the play is set before the crucifixion of Christ and portrays great Bible characters who are impacted by Jesus’ work on earth.

Sophomore journalism and mass communication major Hannah Smith, who will play Mary Magdalene, said, “[The play] focuses on a lot of conversions and the changes that happened when Christ came. When He came, [His ministry] was radical, and no one had ever heard these ideas before.”

Mr. Jeff Stegall, the production’s director, said one of the elements that makes this production different from those of previous years is the cohesiveness of the artwork and the drama. Many of the art pieces weave seamlessly and directly into the storyline as if they were speaking an additional text supplement, and the pieces depict several of the characters seen on stage as well.

“We’re seeing the characters, and then all of a sudden we attach them to, ‘Oh that’s that person in that painting,’” Stegall said.

Another factor that differs from previous years is how the actors will use the stage. Most of the past Living Gallery productions used only the folds (the edges of the stage along the walls), but this year’s production will use the folds in addition to sharing part of the main stage with the artwork. This shared space creates a visual tie between the performance and the art, making both seemingly incomplete without the other.

Through the presentation of this production to the Greenville community, Stegall hopes that those who are lost will see the light and those in the light will be encouraged.

“Anybody who comes to Christ is on a road making a journey from darkness to light,” Stegall said. “What a great thing that we get a special weekend to celebrate that happening in our lives and sharing that story with others who aren’t in the light yet.”