The performance of the Gospel of Mark started out as a 16-member group of actors from Georgia who memorized and dramatized the 15,000-word Gospel.
But it became impractical to take a 16-member troupe of actors on the road.
That’s when Father Joseph Morris, a member of the acting troupe, decided to turn the performance into a one-man show.
Now, with hundreds of performances in the U.S., England and Canada under his belt, Father Morris will bring his version of the Gospel to churches in Fairport and Greece.
And yes, he does know all 15,000 words.
“We’re used to the Gospel as being something you read, that is flat or in pieces,” Father Morris said. “In this experience, you begin to see its interconnectedness, and see how it’s really a solid story.”
Father Morris will perform his rendition of Mark’s Gospel, called “Mark’s Gospel LIVE,” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 29, at the Church of the Assumption, 20 East Ave. in Fairport. He will repeat his performance at 7 p.m. Nov. 30 at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 3003 Dewey Ave. in Greece.
Father Morris said his performances continually remind him of the humanity of Jesus. Though the first portion of the Gospel is lighthearted, he must act out the horror of the Crucifixion in the second part.
“It’s always new,” Father Morris said. “There’s always a new audience, and how the audience responds to it can affect the emphasis and the way that I do it.”
Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart Sister Barbara Baker, who is pastoral associate and religious-education and faith-formation director of St. Jude of the Apostles Church in Gates, had suggested that Father Morris be brought to the area. She said she worked with him in Marietta, Ga., where she saw him perform the Gospel with the original ensemble cast.
As Father Morris was developing the one-man show, he consulted with acting and voice coaches, who helped him create a professional-quality production, she said. He only uses a few small props, such as a piece of cloth, to bring the words to life.
“He has a wonderful way of presenting this,” Sister Baker said. “He’s very wonderful and prayerful.”
The performance runs about two hours and includes an intermission. She said the performance is appropriate for anyone ages 8 and up. There are no tickets or admission cost, although a free-will offering will be taken at each performance.
For details on Father Morris’ performances, visit www.gospelofmark.us.