He was a murderer. He was a writer. He was one of the defining voices of Christianity, whose words still inspire believers and skeptics alike. "He" is St. Paul the Apostle, and A..D. Players, the Houston theater company long known for bringing Christian-centric shows to its stage, looks to showcase exactly how riveting and turbulent Paul's life and the Word of God can be in its latest offering, The Apostle.
Chip Simmons stars in the show, based on the letters of St. Paul to the Romans.
"Here was a man who had been publicly executing people of faith, specifically Christians, for several years," says Simmons. "Then, after one trip to Damascus, everything changed. And he ended up a martyr for the very faith that he condemned for most of his life."
Following that fateful encounter on the road to Damascus, Paul packed up stakes and traveled thousands of miles across the Roman Empire, preaching the word of God, imploring his fellow men to become Christians. His letters and teachings make up the bulk of the New Testament.
"We want to take a dramatic plunge into his own writings, telling his story using only his own written words," says Simmons.
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Using a contemporary setting and a somewhat controversial translation of the Bible called The Message, A.D. Players has crafted a show that the company hopes will not only get to the heart of Paul and his own relationship with God, but provide a contemporary lens through which the audience can contemplate his writings.
"What if the Apostle Paul were alive today?" says Simmons. "What would he say? Whom would he offend? This takes an avant-garde leap of dramatic exploration into the book of Romans.
"I believe [Romans] is a breathing document that can be experienced with fresh, relevant and bold spiritual rhythms," says Simmons. "You might be surprised what you hear from a contemporary self-proclaimed murderer, who ended his life as one of the most influential figures of the Apostolic Age."
Performances of The Apostle will continue through April 17 at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Sundays at A.D. Players Mainstage Theater, 2710 West Alabama. For information, call 713-526-2721 or visit adplayers.org. $40 ($20 students).