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Many of them are mentioned only once in Scripture, and are never heard from again. But the Jews have a custom called the “midrash,” which retells a Biblical event from the minor character’s point of view. A Company of Strangers brings 17 of them to life in Strangers at the Gate, to be performed on Sunday, March 11, at 11 am in the Barn Theatre at CCBC Catonsville, part of the Mini-Fringe Theatre Festival at the Women’s Expo.
Although Rosanna Tufts, one of the performers in Strangers at the Gate, is not Jewish, she was familiar with the concept of midrashim, from the time Edwin Ankeny preached a sermon at Mt. Vernon Place UMC, impersonating the innkeeper who sent Mary and Joseph out to the stable. Now she is delighted to dramatize Rahab, escaping Jericho as the walls collapse around her. Charles Butler created this midrash especially for her, as a ToastMasters project.
Another highlight is the unnamed “Man with the Water Jar.” When Jesus told the disciples to find him, so they could prepare the Passover feast, how would they recognize him out of all the teeming masses in Jerusalem? “Easy!” says Charles: “Carrying water was women’s work. A man would have been an unusual sight.” Charles re-imagines him as a prototypical drag queen, a Greek actor now too old to play female roles. (You’ll never see the Last Supper the same way again!)
Especially poignant is the swansong of Jephtha’s daughter, the Bible’s sole instance of human sacrifice, and an object lesson of every conceivable miscarriage of justice. The show also features Jonah, Midian (Abraham’s 3rd son), Og the Giant, Joseph of Arimithea, Lilith, and many more.
This show is part of the two-day Mini-Fringe Theatre Festival taking place at the Women’s Expo, March 10-11. The lineup includes Women: Back to the Future by Kate Campbell Stevenson, Cendrillon by the Baltimore Vocal Arts Foundation, the Harbor City Music Company Show Chorus, the Menopause Outlaws, the classic rockers The Buddz, and two more works by local playwrights: A Love Like This, a romantic comedy by Derrell Owens, and The Passion of Persephone, a rock opera by Rosanna Tufts that reinvents the Greek myth as a Gilded Age bondage-and-discipline fantasy.
Strangers at the Gate plays Sunday, March 11, at 11 am. Tickets for all shows, individually, are $10. Multi-show passes are also available at http://womensexpominifringe.eventbrite.com. See One, See Some, or See Them All!
Rosanna E. Tufts is a community reporter and Charter Member of the Village Connector Community News. She is the coordinator of the Mini-Fringe Theatre Festival, a local composer, musical-theatre soprano, public speaker, the host of “The Tufts Get Going” on www.PWNradio.net, and author of “Windfall! Taming the Jealousy Monster when You or a Relative Comes into Money.” She lives in Catonsville. You can reach her by calling 443-860-9604 or visiting www.RosannaTufts.com.