The Rich Young Man

Last Saturday I went to Maya Sahnesi along İstiklal caddesi to see the play The Rich Young Man by Richard Dickinson, based on his novel The Lost Testament of Judas Iscariot. The plays tells the story about Jesus and his followers, but not in the fashion that your priest tells you. Here Jesus asks Judas to betray him and the Jesus’ miracles are really just smart PR schemes by the brilliant Judas.

I enjoyed the story, but the acting and the written dialogue were both quite flawed. What reminded me about it now was one of the news items that has been floating around in the media during the day. Namely this about Judas being told by Jesus to betray him according to a 1700 year old text. What a luck for Dickinson!

What I saw was the world premier of the play, it will play at the same place ebery Saturday during April. You can read more about it here, where you also can find a fresh review from Turkish daily News. (When I went to the play I didn’t know anything about Dickinsons political views, and this blogpost has nothing to say about that.)

3 Comments so far

  1. michael dickinson (unregistered) on April 10th, 2006 @ 3:43 pm

    The entire script has been published by ‘America’s Best Political Newsletter’, Counterpunch – http://www.counterpunch.org/dickinson04072006.html


  2. Sven Holmström (unregistered) on April 10th, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

    Thanks! Great to see a comment by the author himself.

    Your play actually inspired me to start listening to The New Testament – the audiobook (The Swedish version, though). I have never succeeded in finishing actually reading the thing, but the listening project is really fun sofar.


  3. michael dickinson (unregistered) on April 20th, 2006 @ 6:16 pm

    This is the English translation of an article about the play ‘The Rich Young Man’ that appeared in the Turkish newspaper Radikal.
    http://www.radikal.com.tr/ek_haber.php?ek=r2&haberno=5769

    RADIKAL IKI 16 April 2006 Sunday

    A different Easter story

    ‘The Rich Young Man’, written and staged by Michael Dickinson, an English teacher living in Turkey, is on at the Maya Theatre. There’s a different Jesus in this play.

    Do you want to see a different story of the resurrection of Jesus this Easter? Resident in Turkey for twenty years, English teacher Michael Dickinson’s ‘The Rich Young Man’, written by him for the stage, shows a very different Jesus from the one we know in the Bible. In fact, in the play, Jesus and his disciples think of nothing but goodness. But in Bethany, surrounded by a wealth of other messiahs, they attempt to find a way to be different by prophesies from the Bible. More precisely, of the apostles, it is Judas, who in order to catch the public eye, encourages Jesus to stage false miracles.

    Dickinson wrote the play twenty years ago, before he came to Turkey. It was even about to start at a pub theatre in London. The actors were found, the posters up. However, due to difficulties the play was cancelled. “Then I got offered a job in Istanbul, and I came here. Whenever I told people the story of my play they said ‘it’s a good story, why don’t you turn it into a book?’ And I wrote the book of the play. It was published in Ireland in 1996.” The comments of the Irish critics fell one after another on the different points of the book – ‘masterpiece’, ‘brave’, ‘cynical’, ‘controversial’ and ‘blasphemy’.

    On stage again

    Twenty years later, after working on a couple of film scenarios, Dickinson has prepared the story for the stage again. Playing at the Maya Theatre every weekend at 8.30 until the end of April, ‘The Rich Young Man’ speculates a new relationship between Jesus and Judas. In this new interpretation, despite Jesus’ wishes, Judas does not betray Jesus.
    “It was very important for me to stage my play at this time of the year. Because today is Easter. I mean, the day when Christians all over the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus… But (laughing) you and I know that he wasn’t really resurrected”.

    Dickinson seems excited about the connection between his twenty year old story and the release of the new ‘lost Gospel’. (The 1700 year old Judas Gospel text was released to the public on 6th April. According to this version of the Bible, Jesus personally asks Judas to betray him.) Whatever, this is not the only claim the play tops. It lays a newly written record of the events of Christian history before us.
    Obviously by accepting that the miracles were faked, the play destroys one of the most accepted foundations of the Bible, and some Istanbul Christians have taken exception. “Some Christians in Istanbul have reacted. Not angry, so much as dismayed. How can we do this, especially with the current fuss about the Muhammed cartoons? If it is a bad thing to make fun of the prophet Muhammed, what right do you have to do this to Jesus? But we’re not making fun of Jesus. You’ve seen the play. Jesus is a well-intentioned person.”

    Just at that moment we are joined by Argus Adakarasi, who plays Jesus in the play. Dickinson discovered him on Buyukada playing guitar at Aya Yorgi monastery. “As soon as I saw him, I said to myself, ‘This is my Jesus'” he says. Most of the other actors are teacher colleagues and Yeditepe students. This amateur and international cast carry Dickinson’s play, which has lain so long on the shelf, at last to the stage.

    Before going to the play, those who are interested might like to have a look at the author’s published articles on the internet newspaper Counterpunch. The whole text of the play is published there at http://www.counterpunch.com. Meanwhile, Dickinson has an announcement. The writer/teacher calls those who want a moneyless world to strike on the day of the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games. Those interested in the strike, which will begin the moment the Olympic flame is lit, can find details on Dickinson’s own website address at http://yabanji.tripod.com/

    Maya Sanat0212 252 7452)

    Erman Ata Uncu



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