‘Listening for Grace’: A play reconciling sexuality, comedy and Christ

'Old Brick' Presbyterian Church will host one performance of TITle -- photo by Alan Light
‘Old Brick’ Presbyterian Church will host one performance of ‘Listening for Grace’ — photo by Alan Light

Listening for Grace

Old Brick Church — Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m.

Issues of religion and sexuality are difficult to navigate in conversation. Navigating just those sorts of difficulties is where the arts — and theatre in particular — excel. Enter Ted Swartz. For two decades, Swartz has been travelling the U.S. and the world exploring the prickly boundary between faith and society through original dramatic works, performed with his company, Ted & Co. In addition to live performances, the company provides DVDs, scripts, discussion guides and other material to faith groups or individuals looking to explore social justice issues through a Christian, and often comedic, lens.

Listening for Grace is one such exploration. It focuses on issues of same-sex relationships, through the story of Daryl, a church-goer in his 50s whose son has just come out as gay. According to the show organizers, “This play doesn’t claim to offer any answers. That’s not its intent. Instead, it … takes seriously the idea that the church is a community of people on a journey.” The goal is for it to serve as a springboard for conversation and, above all, listening.

The show is being brought to Iowa City by a loosely-knit committee of donors from across eastern Iowa — all people of faith from a variety of Christian denominations, united in their desire to expand the conversation about sexuality in the Christian church.

Committee member Isaac Schrock said, “Although I’m clearly biased towards full inclusion and full acceptance of all LGBTQ persons into the church, precisely as they are … I believe this play can provide an excellent witness and insight for people of faith and non-believers (regardless of their belief/position/understanding about sex, orientation, gender, etc.) to the tension, pain and struggle that LGBTQ individuals and their families experience within the church. I would hope for all individuals to come, be moved and find grace for one another.”

This one-night engagement of Listening for Grace is being presented on Thursday, Oct. 22 at Old Brick (26 E. Market St, Iowa City). Admission is free and the show is open to the public.

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