York Crucifixion and Tahirih: Female Cosmic Christ

              Madonna Crucifixion

‘The York Crucifixion’, is a Happy Dagger Theatre presentation, supported by The City of Perth. It is showing at The Rechabites’ Hall, Northbridge until 23rd March. Shows at 7.30, late shows Friday and Saturday at 9.30 pm. 

The other day the phone rang with the information that some one was doing a play here in Perth about the crucifixion of a Female Jesus/Madonna with a similar theme of the title of my book: “Tahirih: Female Cosmic Christ Spirit of the Age” which has been advertised in Perth through TV, Radio, Newspapers, and Book Launch Flyers (1st and 2nd Editions).   

The play is entitled “The York Crucifixion” which features Renee McIntosh as a semi-naked Jesus on the cross persecuted by soldiers. The local clergy has reacted negatively to the idea that a woman could play the part of Jesus in a lead up to Easter. The Director, Andrew Hale, says the play is about examining ‘love and sacrifice’ yet the clergy reject the right of the Arts to examine these themes if they use religious icons such as Jesus. Some community members ridicule the Government for contributing $28,000. towards the production. 

The thing that gets me about this negative reaction by the churches is that they have been out of balance by portraying God and the Messengers with male pronouns throughout the patriarchal Abrahamic cycle with no consideration of the Divine Female Counterparts. Obviously this has made religion out of balance by focusing on the male gender and marginalizing the ‘other half’ of Divinity.   So at the end of the day I have to congratulate Happy Dagger for coming out in an effort to rebalance society and giving the churches a chance to show their bigotry in clinging to outworn models of duality and their obvious rejection of harmony, balance, and Wholeness.  

My first publisher, who is a devoted Catholic, said that he saw no reason why Christ could not return as a Female. I am so encouraged by his calibre of thought.  

Starr* Saffa 

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1 Comment

  1. Andrew Hale said,

    18/03/2008 at 11:40 am

    Note from Tahirih-Starr* re Andrew Hale’s response to the public as shown below to his production ‘The York Crucifixion’.

    In the case of this writer the play was being complimented for its iconoclastic nature so my comments do not lie in the criticsm category. Also, it should be noted that the Tahirih Path, as out layed in the book “Tahirih Thealogy, Female Cosmic Christ Spirit of the Age, Concealed no longer!”, is not based on Islam; but rather is all inclusive of the *continuous flow of revelation* through the aware heart of all people, as revealed in the Zeitgeist by Tahirih in 1844. I thank Andrew for his endeavors and look forward to more expanding work from him in the future. Starr*

    As the director of The York Crucifixion and Artistic Director of Happy Dagger Theatre it is disconcerting that I am responding to criticism from people who have not yet seen the production. However, in true Easter style it seems, I must answer to scare-mongering and unsubstantiated claims. Knowing the company I keep, I proceed in good faith.

    All criticism of the production falls roughly into five categories.

    1) The timing of the production is insensitive – We are attempting an exploration of the Easter story, therefore I cannot think of a more apt time. If the suggestion is that people should not think about Easter during Easter, must only think about Easter in a certain way, or that only Christians may ponder love and sacrifice at this time of year, I wholeheartedly disagree.
    2) The production seeks to mock Christians – It does not. Four soldiers complain, blaspheme and mock as scripted by the clergy in the 13th century. This production uses a theatrical devise (Bouffon theatre) to portray those soldiers as immortal, otherworldly beings that play nonsense games and ignore Jesus because Jesus refuses to join in. Instead of mocking in the usual mean fashion they do so with delight and exuberance.
    3) The production is blasphemous – This criticism seems to come from the misconception that Jesus is being portrayed as a woman. This is not so. Jesus is being played by a woman. Actors are vehicles for the story and as such, can play any age, gender, and/or form that is required of them. The character of Jesus is continually referred to as ‘he’ by the other characters as written in the original script. As for the semi-nudity, the image of crucifixion is for me one of fragility, vulnerability, innocence, and strength. To clothe that image is to dilute its power beyond theatrical use.
    4) Happy Dagger Theatre wouldn’t dare do a similar production surrounding an Islamic Holy Day or Season – Any examination of a story that comes from a culture other than my own, not based on any knowledge or experience of that culture, would of course be offensive. It is no more Happy Dagger Theatre’s right to explore Islam than to explore Indigenous culture. My culture is predominantly Christian. As an artist I claim my right to examine the culture that formed me and to do so publicly. The implicit slander in such criticism on peaceful Muslims however, is palpable.
    5) The State Government of Western Australia funded the production – Every arts funding application goes through a rigorous selection process. Most major theatre work is budgeted between $100,000 and $300,000. Our $28,000 grant made up less than a quarter of the original budget for The York Crucifixion. The shortfall came from the donation of goods, services and labour by those in support of the project. Happy Dagger Theatre employed twelve professional West Australian artists, five of them for a period of seven weeks.

    Happy Dagger Theatre is a growing company with a passion for theatre, a desire to push theatrical bounds, a wish to always improve as artists, and a heartfelt faith that entertaining is the least theatre should be. Many people (Christians and Atheists alike) have already decided what Easter means to them. For the rest of us, Happy Dagger Theatre proposed an opportunity to take a look at the story and perhaps ponder its meaning afresh. The York Crucifixion has certainly done that. However we never imagined it possible, without it ever being seen.

    Andrew Hale


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