Caravaggio Tableaux Vivants,
Performed by the Ludovica Rambelli Teatro Company,
Video documentary,
Performed in 2018
© Ludovica Rambelli Teatro

Caravaggio Tableaux Vivants,
Performed by the Ludovica Rambelli Teatro Company,
Video documentary,
Performed in 2018
© Ludovica Rambelli Teatro

Gospel of 12 August 2019

The Son of Man is going to be handed over

Matthew 17: 22-27

One day when they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to his disciples, ‘The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised to life again.’ And a great sadness came over them.

When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel came to Peter and said, ‘Does your master not pay the half-shekel?’ ‘Oh yes’ he replied, and went into the house. But before he could speak, Jesus said, ‘Simon, what is your opinion? From whom do the kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from foreigners?’ And when he replied, ‘From foreigners’, Jesus said, ‘Well then, the sons are exempt. However, so as not to offend these people, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that bites, open its mouth and there you will find a shekel; take it and give it to them for me and for you.’

Reflection on the Theatre Performance

Today we are looking at a video performance by an Italian theatre company (Ludovica Rambelli Teatro) who re-enact all the main paintings by Caravaggio. I invite you to click here to see the 4 minute video of the performance:

Jesus in today’s reading is predicting what will happen to Him; the suffering and Passion that awaits him. Caravaggio has depicted various of these elements in his paintings, and we can see some of these Passion scenes in this video: the Flagellation, the Entombment etc… These ‘tableaux Vivants’ (live paintings) performed by teh theatre company, transport the viewer into a world where pictorial art and theatre art overlap and merge.

The history of theatre and the Church is quite an interesting one, but too long to get fully into here in our short daily meditations. In a nutshell, after the fall of the Roman Empire and its pagan gods, Christians turned their backs on theatre on the whole, and didn’t use it as an art form till Medieval times. During the Middle Ages, Church leaders began to see that drama, stripped of its pagan and worldly trappings, could become a powerful tool for the Christian faith and a great vehicle to evangelise. Medieval drama was for the most part very religious and moral in its themes and staging. Fast forward to the video of today where now Christian theatre companies or themes are struggling to get an audience, probably with the exception of nativity plays and passion plays. Theatre of course lends itself well to present the Passion of Jesus Christ: His trial, His handing over to the crowds, His suffering and death.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus predicts His fate and His Passion that awaits him. The fact the disciples became very sad shows how much they loved Jesus. They simply could not imagine how they might live without Jesus… nor can we…

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