Theatrical Theology – Conversations on Performing the Faith

Registration is still open for this year’s conference hosted by the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts at the University of St Andrews, the Institute to which the regular contributors of this blog belong. This year’s theme is Theatrical Theology: Conversations on Performing the Faith. The conference will take place in St Andrews 15-17 August, 2012. Click here to register.

From the conference website:

‘Influenced and inspired by Hans Urs von Balthasar’s seminal work in The Theo-Drama, a growing number of contemporary scholars in various theological disciplines are discovering the potential for interdisciplinary conversation between theology and theatre. From a theological perspective, there are several reasons why drama and theatre present themselves as particularly fitting conversation partners, including the inherently dramatic form of God’s revelation in word and deed, the role of Scripture as a text which invites performance rather than passivity, faithful action as both the goal and means of theological understanding, the public and communal nature of theology, and the indeterminacy, provisionality, and ‘improvised’ nature of the theological task. For its part, theatre has always been compelled to acknowledge a debt to its ancient and longstanding entanglements with religious and theological perspectives, and may have much to gain from the process of revisiting and responding to these, not least in their present-day Christian form.

‘The task of pursuing a serious and constructive interdisciplinary exchange between theatre and theology, however, is one that has only just begun. Furthermore, suspicions persist in some theological quarters regarding the value of interdisciplinary approaches to theology as such, and towards theatre in particular which, among the arts, has experienced a particularly volatile relationship with the Church across the centuries. In response to all of this, Theatrical Theology: Conversations on Performing the Faith will seek to demonstrate the fruitfulness for constructive Christian theology and theatre alike of pursuing the conversation further, tracing some of the advances that have already been made, and identifying new challenges and opportunities still to be reckoned with as the interaction continues and develops further.’

Plenary speakers and titles include:

David Brown (St Andrews): ‘The Potential of Theatre for Insight and Revelation’

Shannon Craigo-Snell (Louisville Seminary): ‘In Praise of Empty Churches’

David Cunningham (Hope College): ‘”And That’s True Too”: Revelation, Drama, and the Shape of Christian Ethics’

Jim Fodor (Bonaventure): ‘Rehearsal Time: The Play of Christian Life’

Timothy Gorringe (Exeter): ‘Revisiting God’s Theatre: The Limits of a Metaphor’

Ivan Khovacs (Canterbury Christ Church): ‘Theatrical Action, Character Play and the Drama of Gethsemane’

George Pattison (Oxford): ‘Play It Again – Kierkegaard’s Repetition as Philosophy and Drama’

There will also be short paper sessions, as well as a special performance straight from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe of Keith Bunin’s epic fantasy play The World Over.

Most of next week’s Christianity and Theatre symposium contributors will be presenting at the conference, so if you would like to hear more about their topics and talk with them in person, please do join us for what promises to be an exciting conference for those of us interested in the intersection of theology and theatre.

Click here to visit the conference website.

Click here to view the conference schedule.

Click here to register


  • Cole Matson is an actor, producer, and arts administrator. He received his PhD from the Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts in 2016.

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