Johnson’s drama in verse, “For Conduct And Innocents,” about the martyr and 20th century theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was presented as a multi-media event (drama, music, dance, film) on Oct. 18, 2015 at Trinity Wall Street with nearly 50 performers participating.
“I love the Bonhoeffer play. . .The whole dynamic of moral indignation and spiritual ardor, combining and recombining there in endless variation – a quality the lyrics also possess – made the reading fascinating.” – Vijay Seshadri
“What an amazing undertaking – so impressive in scope, intent and understanding. This must have taken years of energy.”– Molly Peacock
To watch the video of this performance, click here to visit the Live Works page.
To read the full text, click here.
Set forth below is additional information on the event:
“For Conduct and Innocents,” a multimedia performance, based on the drama in verse written by J. Chester Johnson, commemorating the martyrdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German cleric, major theologian and staunch opponent of the Third Reich, had been presented on Sunday, October 18 at Trinity Church, Lower Manhattan. Bonhoeffer was hanged in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945 for taking part in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This event represented part of a worldwide commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Bonhoeffer’s execution by the Nazis.
The performance was adapted for the stage by J. Chester Johnson from a poem written by him and directed by playwright Alan Baxter. Actors – including Robert Scott, Frank Romano, and Emily Kitchens – portrayed significant moments leading up to the martyrdom of Bonhoeffer; the play’s performance contained expressions by the Trinity Movement Choir, serving as a Greek chorus, whose members provided dance-based commentary on the proceedings, choreographed by Marilyn Green. The production included original music by the composer Paul Knopf for a planned film on Bonhoeffer.
In addition, the Trinity Youth Chorus premiered a work for youth choir, composed by Atlanta-based choral director and composer Diane Abdi Robertson. The composition was based on the poignant poem, “Dream,” the work of a teenage Polish Jew, Abraham Koplowicz, who already had a reputation for lyric poetry when he was killed in a concentration camp.
ABOUT DIETRICH BONHOEFFER
Bonhoeffer, an important 20th century theologian, was born in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland) into an upper middle class German family in 1906. He received a doctorate from the University of Berlin and served a German parish in Barcelona before attending Union Theological Seminary in New York. During his time at Union, he became especially involved with Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, an experience that profoundly impacted his future activism and theology. Bonhoeffer’s writings trace the evolution of his theologically-based resistance to the Third Reich. He was the first theologian to address the role of the Church in Nazi Germany, concluding that the Church was obligated to object to persecution, to help the victims of injustice, and to take all steps necessary to end persecution. By 1940, Bonhoeffer was a member of the resistance, working to build foreign support for a German plot to overthrow Hitler and helping many Jews escape to Switzerland. As a result of these activities, he was arrested in April, 1943 and, in 1944, was implicated in a failed plot to assassinate Hitler. He was executed in the Flossenburg concentration camp on April 9, 1945.
ABOUT TRINITY WALL STREET
Chartered in 1697, Trinity Wall Street is an Episcopal parish offering daily worship services and faith formation programs at Trinity Church, St. Paul’s Chapel, and online at trinitywallstreet.org. Trinity Wall Street includes Trinity Grants, providing more than $80 million in funding to mission partners around the world since 1972; St. Margaret’s House, providing subsidized housing to the elderly and disabled since 1982; Trinity Preschool; Trinity Institute, an annual theological conference; an extensive arts program presenting more than 100 concerts each year through series such as Concerts at One, and performances by the Grammy-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street and the Trinity Youth Chorus. Trinity Real Estate manages the parish’s six million square feet of commercial real estate in lower Manhattan, providing funding for the parish’s local and global mission outreach. For more information, visit trinitywallstreet.org.