Godspell is a musical by Stephen Schwartz and a book by John-Michael Tebelak. It opened off Broadway on May 17, 1971, and has played in various touring companies and revivals many times since. The structure of the musical presents a series of parables of Jesus, based mostly on the Gospel of Matthew, though three of the featured parables are recorded only in the Gospel of Luke. The parables are interspersed with a variety of modern music set primarily to lyrics from traditional hymns, with the passion of Christ treated briefly near the end of the performance.
- I come not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to complete.
- Now you have heard that they were told "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth", but what I tell you is this. Never set yourself against the man who wrongs you. So if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn and offer him your left.
- Prepare ye the way of the Lord!
- Jesus: How do you remove a speck of sawdust from your brother's eye when all the while there's a big plank in your own?
- Judas: I don't know, how do you remove a speck of sawdust from your brother's eye when all the while there's a big plank in your own?
- Jesus:You hypocrite!
- Judas: Wha-ha?
- Jesus: First you take the plank out of your own eye so you can see clearly to remove the speck of sawdust from your brother's eye!
- Judas: Wait a minute! That's no answer to the question!
- Jesus: Did I promise you an answer to the question?
- Judas: Ah... No.
- Jesus: The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be darkness. If then, the only light you have is darkness, the darkness will be doubly dark.
- Gilmer: Hey, I can't see!
- Everyone: Why not?
- Gilmer: I had my eyes shut
- Jesus: Did I ever tell you that I used to read feet?
- Jeffrey: What?
- Jesus: Some people read palms, tea leaves? I read feet. [Jeffrey shakes his head] No, look! [grabs Jeffrey's shoe] Aha, it says rejoice! [everybody crowds around Jeffrey to look at his shoe]
- Jeffrey: ...It says "Keds".
Quotes about Godspell
- GODSPELL is almost anything but conventional. At the beginning of the show Judas is the one who, in the guise of John the Baptist, introduces Jesus to the audience and to the soon-to-be disciples. Subsequently he's seen as Jesus' best friend-probably a childhood buddy. He's frequently Jesus' "stage manager", making sure that the stage is set up right for the next event, parable, or game. Unfortunately, Judas also never seems to really "get" what Jesus is talking about. As the show progresses, Judas undergoes a conversion just like everyone else does, but his is in the opposite direction. Where the disciples move from being confused uncommitted individuals into being a community of believers, Judas gradually moves further and further away from Jesus' teachings until he finally betrays and almost reluctantly executes him.
The character of Judas is rather confusing until you quit trying to see him as either "evil" or as Jesus' opposite. Just like the other disciples, he's another aspect of Everyman-the darker, less certain side. He's really just a regular guy who's not quite able to fall in with Jesus' teachings as much as everyone else is.
- Above all, the first act of Godspell must be about the formation of a community. Eight separate individuals, led and guided by Jesus (who is helped by his assistant, John the Baptist/Judas), gradually come to form a communal unit. This happens through the playing of games and the telling and absorption of lessons, and each of the eight individuals has his or her own moment of committing to Jesus and to the community. When Jesus applies clown make-up to their faces after "Save the People," he is having them take on an external physical manifestation that they are his disciples, temporarily separating them from the rest of society. But the internal journey of each character is separate and takes its individual course and period of time. Exactly when and why this moment of commitment occurs is one of the important choices each of the actors must make, in collaboration of course with the director. At the end of the first act, the audience is invited to join the community through the sharing of wine (or grape juice), mingling with the actors during intermission.