By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
One by one, 12 men come into the spotlight, each remembering the beginning of his faith in Jesus and questioning his own moral strength after the announcement that one of them would betray Jesus that fateful night.
So goes “The Living Dramatization of Leonardo DaVinci’s ‘The Last Suppper’” by Ernest K. Emurian.
First United Methodist Church is holding the presentation for Maudy Thursday at 7:30 p.m. today. The event includes communion and is free and open to the public.
“It brings to life the puzzlement and emotion that happened in the upper room 2,000 years ago,” said Director Jan Smartnick.
Smartnick hopes the audience takes away a better understanding of why Jesus handpicked the 12 men to be his closest companions and is prepared for the memorial of the crucifiction Friday.
The dramatization and the painting that inspired it are based on the Christian teaching of Jesus Christ celebrating the Jewish Passover with his closest followers in the upper room of a house before one of the followers helped authorities find and arrest him.
According to the New Testament, Jesus was arrested on a Thursday, died during crucifiction Friday and came back to life Sunday. Christianity teaches that the death of Jesus, both God and human, was necessary to pay for human wrongdoing so believers could be forgiven by God and allowed into heaven.
John Lowry-King, who has portrayed Jesus in the biannual presentation for years, said the experience is humbling for him, particularly when the disciples walk away from Jesus one by one at the end.
“What we’re faced with is every (disciple) and every one of us in our own lives betrays or denies Jesus,” he said.
Lowry-King said he hoped members of the audience would connect with one or more of the disciples and see what they have in common with those men so the story becomes more real to them.
“I think sometimes we focus on the celebration of Easter and we miss the days leading up to Easter, especially the few days before, and I think it’s good preparation,” he said of the play.
Kenny Prince, who portrays James the Lesser, said once actors get into character, they learn a lot and gain a better perspective of what it means to be a certain disciple. He said working with the other actors also teaches them about the rest of the disciples.
“We hope we can project that same feeling to people that are watching the play,” Prince continued.
Each disciple thinks his faith is strong but questions himself, even Judas, who betrayed Jesus, he said.
Smartnick said the Methodist Church has hosted the presentation every other year for at least a dozen years. Actors from five churches are participating this year.
What: “The Living Dramatization of Leonardo DaVinci’s ‘The Last Supper’” by Ernest K. Emurian
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: First United Methodist Church