Interview: Jeremiah Gamble

Jeremiah and Vanessa Gamble

We had the pleasure recently of speaking To Jeremiah Gamble.  Jeremiah has written, stars in, and (with spouse Vanessa Gamble) has composed the music for Kingdom Undone, a remarkably intelligent and challenging telling of the Passion of Christ story.  The play runs two more weekends at the excellent Southern Theatre, closing Easter Sunday.  Jeremiah and Vanessa also run a highly successful theater, Theater For The Thirsty.  How’s Kingdom Undone going?

Jeremiah Gamble:  It’s going quite well.  It’s a project I’ve been working on for three years.  It really came together.  It’s everything I hoped it could be, which you can’t always say in life.  Response has been good.  We won’t have to take out a loan.

HWTS:  I’m delighted to hear that.  I noticed in the program a certain vagueness about whether Theater For The Thirsty is producing Kingdom Undone.  Is it?

JG:  No.  Theater For The Thirsty is a for-profit organization and for Kingdom Undone we had to raise money, get grants.  Vanessa and I are sponsored by Springboard For The Arts.  For this play we created a non-profit production entity, The Bucket Brigade.

HWTS:  This may be an unfair question, but were you aware that you were writing Kingdom Undone for a religious audience?  Did this affect your approach?

JG:  Well, a writer always asks, who is my audience.  With Kingdom Undone, I was trying to live in the tension between Christian and non-Christian audiences.  I wanted to appeal to both groups, and I really wanted to tell the story well.

HWTS:  It’s a fabulous story.

JG:  Christians often interface with the events of Jesus’s Passion, in church, at this time of year.  But often, they don’t get a sense of the building tension of the story.  We don’t give them every event.  We omit a lot.  We emphasize certain things.

HWTS:  One really interesting aspect of your play is that Judas Iscariot is not portrayed as a villain.  In fact, he’s the hero of the piece.  Is there anything else unusual in your telling?

JG:  Well, one surprise is the humor.  People aren’t used to seeing this story told so comically.  Also, the take on Jesus is unusual.

HWTS:  What’s happening with Theater For the Thirsty?

JG:  This project could be a game-changer.  We’re asking ourselves: what stories do we really need to tell?  Kingdom Undone has provided a point of connection with other artists and given us a hunger to work with more people.

Our next project will be: ‘Til Death, A Marriage Musical.  I’m working with Vanessa on this one.  We’ll be collaborating with at least one other couple.  We hope to be ready this fall.

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