Emerging playwright/director Germono Toussaint brilliantly presented his new play, The Anointed, to a captivated audience at Columbia University’s Union Theological Seminary on Saturday, February 16, 2013. The play whose theme examines the effect of institutionalized homophobia in the black church was presented in collaboration with the thesis presentation, ‘Disruption & Breaking Free: Sexuality, Theology & the Black Church, by Michael A Roberson, a third-year Master of Divinity Student.
By Karl Marshall
The Anointed engages in a discourse about sexuality, spirituality and theology through the lives of the four principal characters, Bishop Charles Strong, an aging fundamentalist who adheres to the church’s prohibition against homosexuality, his close friend, Pastor Raymond Lewis III, the ailing leader of Love International Ministry, who has hidden his homosexuality while building a ministry that promotes a liberal message of love, Evangelist Tonya Richards, his lesbian associate minister who is being kept out of the pulpit because of Lewis’ sexism, and Bishop Strong’s young gay musical director, Minister David Wright, the ‘anointed’ whose spectacular musical gifts are being suffocated by his need to hide his orientation from the withering attacks of Strong’s messages.
Acted out in the perfect setting of the neo-Gothic James Memorial Chapel, the superbly talented cast of Andre’ DeShields (Bishop Strong), Count Stovall (Pastor Lewis), Harriett D. Foy (Tonya Richards), and Clinton Roane (David Wright) breathed the fullness of black church life into Toussaint’s work with supremely soulful gospel singing and unparalleled character development. They did justice to the script that juxtaposed moments of heart wrenching dialog against light hearted comedy, and had the capacity audience on its feet, shedding tears and interacting with the characters in a manner that was indistinguishable from any Sunday morning experience in the ‘holiness’ of the black church.
The drama courses its way from a start where ‘people come to church bruised, and leave crippled after having the hell beat out of them’ by the homophobic rhetoric to a climax that liberates the anointed to sing free, and bring redemption to tortured souls, transforming the audience on the journey.
Toussaint, the Founder/Artistic Director of A Mile In My Shoes, Inc. http://www.amims.org who was inspired to write this play from the anger generated from seeing the destructive effect when the church twisted its sacred gospel of love into a message of hate, hopes to take his play on the road away from the more receptive confines of New York City to the wider audience across America.