Friday, June 21, 2013

Performances of Mark's Gospel

I have sometimes heard people talking about amazing one-man (and it usually is a man) shows performing Mark's Gospel.  I am currently working on a presentation about Mark's Gospel in the digital age for the SBL International and I began to wonder if there were any great one-person presentations of Mark's Gospel on Youtube.  And there are a few.  They vary greatly in quality and degree of irritation and some, it has to be said, are a little acTORish, but here are a few that I have found interesting.

My favourite is currently this version in German by Eric Wehrlin.  It's nicely produced and has good live intro-music and outro-credits too:




This one is by Max McLean and I have to say that he sounds terribly like Tom Baker (Doctor Who), so if you want to hear Mark's Gospel performed by the fourth doctor, this is the one for you:





It is indexed on Youtube by chapter, and the above is the playlist linking all sixteen chapters.  The translation appears to be the NIV, but with some of McLean's little edits.  One of the advantages of this version is that it introduces nice maps on screen whenever necessary, and we get the odd sound effect. He introduces some humour into the performance in such a way that surprising pieces end up seeming amusing, which of course is one of the advantages of a live performance.  I must admit that this one is really growing on me.  There is more on its own website, Mark's Gospel on Stage with Max McLean.

There are some interesting issues with live performances that may help us to think through the performance of texts in antiquity.  For one thing, I was struck how in both Wehrlin's and McLean's performances, Mark's broken sentence at Mark 2.10 ("but in order that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . . ."), often said by Biblical scholars to be somewhat colloquial, works very well.

Similarly, one has to make a judgement about the ending of Mark.  In both performances, the actors also perform the longer ending.  I suppose the Biblical scholars will all balk at this, so ingrained is it that Mark finishes at 16.8, but actually, the relatively unfamiliarity of Mark 16.9-20 gives each performance a strange freshness.

There are other performances available on Youtube, some much less professional than these two, and there are clips of others.  One that may be of interest is Whitney Shiner, who is an actual Biblical scholar, here filmed performing Mark 7.  This is not a professional video, but it gives an idea of his performance including, once again, the use of humour.




It looks like he is in the classroom, but there is no further information about the performance here.  I once heard Shiner performing pieces of Mark 15 at the SBL Annual Meeting.  I am curious as to whether he has ever done a performance of the whole thing.

Update (12.45pm): More! Thanks to Matthew Montonini for drawing my attention to several clips of Tom Boomershine performing Mark, all the more interesting since he is my respondent at the SBL International Meeting at St Andrews.  Perhaps I could ask him to perform a piece for me at the session!

This piece is an audience recording of his performance of part of Mark's Passion Narrative in Greek as well as in translation.  Boomershine contextualizes the performance with some comments about Mark's composition too, which contrasts somewhat with the less scholarly introduction to Max McLean's show above:




And although there is not yet a complete recitation of Mark's Gospel by Boomershine on Youtube, there are several nicely-produced clips (but don't be put off by Boomershine's quite extraordinary shirt, which you do eventually get used to).  This clip is Mark 15.1-15:




As far as I can see, no one has yet put together a playlist of all the clips. If anyone feels like doing that, and would like to let me know, I'd be really grateful.  The other clips are: Mark 3.31-35Mark 7.1-23, Mark 13.3-17, Mark 14.3-9Mark 14.53-65.  There are some clips from a different performance and this time Boomershine is more conventionally dressed:





For these, see also Mark 1.9-15Mark 2.1-14, Mark 8.13-21 and Mark 10.1-12.

Judging from the number of views these clips have had (in the teens for some of them), very few people know about this resource.  In some ways it is not surprising given the lack of metadata for each video -- you'd have to know to search for Boomershine.  Searches on things like "Mark as story" or "performances of Mark" or "Mark one man show" and so on would not turn these up.  Perhaps this blog post can go some way towards changing that.

Update (1.46pm): Thanks to three minute theologian (comments) who reminded me of Alex McCowen's famous performance of Mark's Gospel.  There are some low-quality mp4s of the performance on Youtube.


25 comments:

J. L. Watts said...

Any chance any of these performances, or others, take use of the historical present in Mark seriously? (of course, I acknowledge many do not place the same emphasis on the HP in Mark as I do).

ThreeMinuteTheologian said...

I hope you're not including Alec McCowen among the acTORly performances?

http://www.nytimes.com/1990/03/22/theater/review-theater-mccowen-returns-in-st-mark-s-gospel.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oOaIeythFw

Jens Knudsen (Sili) said...

Speaking of humour (Mark is rich in irony, is it not?), what is your take on "Surely this man was the Son of God!"? Sarcasm or not?

Mark Goodacre said...

Good question, Joel. Not so far. Nor do we have Mark's use of "Immediately . . ." brought out, which is a shame.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, ThreeMinuteTheologian. I had heard about this but couldn't find him on Youtube. Nice to have that clip. I'll update.

Mark Goodacre said...

Hi Sili. Yes, I think it's sarcastic:

http://ntweblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/centurions-sarcastic-cry-in-mark-1539.html

eddie said...

Are you aware of http://themarkdrama.com/ ? It's not a one man show, but it is a fascinating approach to producing a play about Mark.

Ian Paul said...

Mark, I have long been interested in performance of texts, and have been in the habit of performing readings from time to time, rather than reading them. I can still recite Matt 24 from memory for this. On my list of things to do before I die is to perform the Book of Revelation (!).

At St John's I have arranged performances in the past. Lance Pierson does Mark as a one-man show http://www.lancepierson.org/marks_gospel.php

An occasional lecturer has been Media Stamper. She is a URC minister just south of here, and was awarded an MDiv from Princeton (I think) for her performance of and reflection on the end of John.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Eddie. I hadn't heard about that.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Ian. Looks like there are a couple of Youtube clips of Lance Pierson too.

Jens Knudsen (Sili) said...

Thanks. I should have searched first. Sorry.

I know the interpretation from Dennis MacDonald, and since other parts of his analysis appear to be wrong, I was curious what others thought about that bit.

Mark Hoffman said...

Phil Ruge-Jones is part of the Biblical Storytellers network. He has performed the whole Gospel of Mark for Select Learning (http://bit.ly/14ceOvA) and a couple pieces of other performances are on YouTube.
Mark 1: http://youtu.be/-RZcDAaIAZU
Mark 15: http://youtu.be/6ZWTkH2dzs0

Mark Hoffman said...

I think the real important figure behind the performances of Mark is David Rhoads. I remember watching a video (probably late 1980s) of his performance of Mark. It was quite an experience at the time. (I watched--well, tried to--the video again a few years ago, and it's almost unbearable due to the horrible VHS quality. It just looks old compared to some of the more recent performances that have been videoed.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Mark. Phil Ruge-Jones's performances look good; shame the YouTube quality is weak.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Mark. I'd love to see David Rhoads performing Mark.

James E. Snapp, Jr. said...

I, too, suppose that Biblical scholars will balk at the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20, as long as they absorb claims such as Bart Ehrman's statement that these verses were added in the early Middle Ages, or Craig Evans' statement that "Many of the older manuscripts have asterisks and obeli marking off the Long or Short Endings."

Of course Biblical scholars will have misgivings about including Mark 16:9-20, as long as their professors misuse the silence of Clement and Origen as evidence for non-inclusion, and blatantly misrepresent the evidence from Eusebius and Jerome, and spread other bogus claims, and don't give the evidence for inclusion equal time.

But those who notice that (1) Epistula Apostolorum, Justin, Tatian, and Irenaeus offer second-century support for the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20, and that (2) the Greek manuscript-evidence for the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20 extends into all branches of transmission, and that (3) this can be shown not only by looking at the 99.9% of manuscripts that support the inclusion of the passage, but also by considering its patristic utilization in the Roman Era -- for them, the inclusion of Mark 16:9-20 in Scripture is no more surprising than it was to Irenaeus.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.


cryptotheology said...

I once saw a one-man show of Mark's Gospel in the UK. I think it must have been the one by Lance Pierson. One thing that really struck me in his performance was his use of different accents for different characters. For the Galileans (including Jesus), he used a northern British accent; for the Jerusalemites, he used Received Pronunciation; and for the Romans (dare I say it), he used an American accent! It was an interesting and memorable feature.

Matthew

Bruce Longenecker said...

Hi Mark. A friend of mine and an Anglican priest by the name of Angus Stuart (based in West Vancouver) performs Mark's Gospel. Don't know if there are any videos of him online, but he mentions his availability on LinkedIn. Perhaps you can access his LinkedIn page if you want his info.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks for your comments, James. You will be pleased, no doubt, that both of these full online performances feature the longer ending.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Matthew. That sounds like fun.

Mark Goodacre said...

Thanks, Bruce. Looks like this is the guy:

http://www.stfrancisinthewood.ca/ministries/testament-of-a-naked-man

It'd be great if he put it online some time.

Mark H said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark H said...

These Max McLean performances are quite riveting although with that definite Tom Baker-esque timbre, I can’t help thinking “Little Palestine”. Many thanks for your blog Mark and NT Pod as well! Really excellent, useful stuff!

in process... said...

You may check this version of the gospel of Mark / http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3tPHXoRzQM

in process... said...

You may see this version of the gospel being recited http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3tPHXoRzQM