A Play With a Purpose: The Gospel According to John Mark was presented on February 11 at the Wendy Williamson Theater at UAA. I was concerned few would attend as, from personal observation, Anchorage churches do not tend to support entertainment coming from outside a specific church or denomination. The Anchorage church community often demonstrates a ‘not invented here’ mentality, failing to support some great opportunities for Christian learning.
Entering the theater, I was warmly greeted by blue-shirted HOPE:worldwide – Alaska chapter supporters throughout the theater. I had a pleasant conversation with one of them. The theater was quite full. For this performance, the venue was divided in half by a horizontal curtain. [img_assist|nid=160005|title=John Mark – Portrayed by Steve Johnson|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=334|height=490]
The format was a single-act monologue, portraying real Biblical character John Mark’s first-person accounts of the events of Jesus life, and also of his connections with Paul’s. The actor, Steve Johnson of Portland, OR, dressed in incredibly ragged prophet’s garb, gave a masterful account of his journeys with Jesus and Paul. There were many stories told, but one of my favorites was that of the woman caught in adultery who was taken to Jesus. Clearly this was a fascinating look into the story of Jesus, explained in first-century life and customs terminology. I found every moment to be most enjoyable, breathing new life into the Biblical accounts.
After the play Steve Johnson came back out to explain why he did these plays. He told us his wife Lisa developed a rare form of cancer. One of the only treatment options available was not covered by their health insurance. So, he developed the idea of doing this play to earn money to pay for her treatment. So far, he’s presented it on every continent except Antarctica. I hope the frozen wastes of Alaska will suffice as it was certainly a worthwhile experience for those of us here. Steve also commented upon the quietness of the many children that were present. I noticed it too, and I’m certain it was due to the excellence of the presentation and their familiarity with the Gospel Story.
I asked several attendees to offer their perspectives on the play.
Overall I thought it was an excellent and educational presentation. From my readings of the Gospels over the years I could tell it was factual. I could also tell there was a good deal of research done to accurately portray many of the other characters and historical events in Jesus’ time. This caused the story to flow smoothly and accurately. The amount of effort in memorizing this one man presentation had to be substantial, and the amount of time in rehearsal must have been great as well. I think it was probably made somewhat easier by the fact that he is a believer. He could literally put himself into the character and “live the story”. The audience could tell he put his heart into his presentation. The only drawback I felt was his occasional tendency to get overly dramatic. However, I believe he did that to keep the audience stimulated and also to keep the numerous kids attention. Overall, I would highly recommend seeing this play. It brings to life just who Jesus is (not was) and how much love he has for us fallen souls. In this day and age when the God of Abraham has been pushed out of public life by selfish materialism and secular values, it is important to remember just what Jesus did for us, and the fact that He will be coming back for His church soon.
Dave Fox, Commercial Pilot – Anchorage
In the one-person play, John Mark, I really enjoyed this portrayal of an important Biblical witness. It was such an inspiring play. My daughter invited me to the play. It was so beautifully done. I would highly recommend it to anyone. What a blessing performance.
Penny Seliger, Elementary Teacher – Anchorage