This essay engages the experimental playwright Nassim Soleimanpour’s White Rabbit Red Rabbit alongside the theological dramatic theory of Hans Urs von Balthasar. Every Soleimanpour play can only happen once. Actors receive the script as they begin the show; any given actor must perform Soleimanpour’s drama as a cold reading unique in history. I propose “Showtime” to theorize this theatrical temporality, exemplified by White Rabbit Red Rabbit and shared by von Balthasar’s theology, on analogy to stage space. This article further examines the play’s themes of identity, self-sacrifice, free obedience, and writing about time through a “theodramatic structural analysis” keyed to von Balthasar. Soleimanpour expands Balthasarian theodramatics in unexpected and unintended directions. So too did the performance of White Rabbit Red Rabbit I attended in 2016 that featured Wayne Brady as the actor. This essay concludes with analysis of that performance and how it places this essay’s theodramatic structural analysis into contexts of race and the history of anti-Black racism in the United States.
Gillespie, C. A. (2020). Theodramatic themes and showtime in Nassim Soleimanpour’s white rabbit red rabbit. Religions, 11(10), 499. Doi: 10.3390/rel11100499
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