“There is a deep abyss that separates Hades from Paradise, which divides the stage into two distinct places. Paradise is beautiful, filled with golden light, and flower-bordered paths through rolling grassy hills and meadows. Everything is set around a great golden stairway. Across the abyss, Hades is dark, barren, and forbidding, looking as though the entire landscape is plunging into the crevasse.”
That is the paragraph that described the set we would have to create for The Gates of Paradise. I get a lot of grief from my brother and all the volunteers about how easy it is for me to just sit and write something like that, compared to how hard it is to build. But when we are finished, everyone loves to watch the faces of our audience when the curtain opens. It is magical.
The Gates of Paradise set is stunning. A thousand square foot mural depicting the chasm that divides Paradise and Hades far into the distance, flanked by a sweeping, curved golden stairway on one side, and a craggy, rock-strewn bluff on the other.
We will attempt to capture it on film when we produce the DVD of this production, this week, but there is nothing quite like seeing it live. If you haven’t, the final performance is this Saturday at 3:00.
Then on the following week, we will start burying that background painting forever under the hills of Galilee, as we begin building Joseph’s house and the surrounding village of Nazareth. That new world will be revealed on November 4th.
I have loved the reactions The Gates of Paradise has received. The abrupt contrast of the two halves of the set is a little jarring, much like certain aspects of the play itself. It is a thought-provoking play, no doubt. Many people have left telling me that they intend to go home and start digging through Scripture. Absolutely…that’s always the right thing to do.
Our purpose is always the same. We hope to present the person and the promise of Jesus in such a way that we can, perhaps, see something we never quite saw before.
For me, one of the most stirring moments we have ever had in a production comes when you see Moses, Isaiah, Joshua, Elijah, and David all proclaiming to those in Hades that Jesus is the promised Messiah. That moving scene culminates in David assuring Jesus himself, that he is indeed the Son of God.
It will be hard to say goodbye to Paradise.