Reminiscent of Ecclesiastes, this surreal play written by Laura Pittenger dabbles in the absurd as it spins a new parable in response to Micah 3:1-12.
Note: This play contains some descriptions of violence and may not be suitable for all audiences. Discretion is advised.
The Man, The Replacement
Dramaturgy, Moral Support
Artist Curated by
Israel's Leaders Denounced
1 And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment? 2 Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; 3 who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron. 4 Then shall they cry unto the Lord, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.
5 Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him: 6 Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. 7 Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God. 8 But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the Lord, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.
9 Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. 10 They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. 11 The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us. 12 Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.
When I read this passage from Micah, I am immediately struck by his frank condemnation of the actions of those in power. The writer speaks directly to the heads of Jacob, the princes of the house of Israel: “Is it not for you to know judgment?” – meaning, God will judge you, too, despite what you may believe. He goes on to add that the seers will be “ashamed,” the diviners “confounded,” and that the “sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.” These are strong words, and leveled against the most powerful people in the country.
It seems clear to me that Micah the prophet, in his warnings against the leaders of the people, could not have been a popular man. It’s uncomfortable to confront the times that we have failed to act with justice, especially towards those who are not as powerful or popular or even just as fortunate as we are. But Micah demands that we do it, not just for the sake of others, but for the sake of our own souls. He begs us to listen and understand his warnings.
We live in a world where the powerful are not always just, and the righteous are not always powerful. The responsibility and hard work of fighting injustice frequently falls to the least among us, and to the oppressed themselves. Often, the battle is lost, but the fight continues by those willing to pick up the flag and keep going. But by what means? Activists have argued for years about the means used to protest injustice – is violence ever appropriate? What constitutes a peaceful protest? Can people judge people, or can God alone be the final judge?
I sought to ask those questions (and hint at some answers) in a parable of a young man, Michael, who arrives at the offices of “The Man” (a mythical manifestation of power in pop culture) in order to kill him, thereby killing the seat and seed of all injustice in the world. But The Man is more than ready for him, willing to listen to Michael’s arguments but just as easily shooting them down. Michael is frustrated, but persists, eventually taking drastic action, which in the end, appears to all have been for naught.
Through this work, I attempted to capture the spirit of this frustrated prophet, speaking truth to the hardened hearts of the leaders and high priests, trying desperately to help them see what they have done to their people and warning them of the final judgment of God. Although the fight against injustice is difficult and unceasing – as the Old Testament reminds us – ultimately, I believe that Hope exists and keeps us alive, even if that light seems dim and far away. We can look to God as both our protector and judge, knowing that in spite of all that plagues us on earth, we are all in His hands in the very end.
Laura Pittenger is a NYC-based playwright and director. Recent publications of her work include PRIDE AND PREJUDICE ABRIDGED (YouthPlays) and THE GOSPEL OF HUXLEY (Smith & Kraus, 5-Minute Play Anthology). Her plays have been produced at the internationally-acclaimed FringeNYC (The HVAC Plays); The Sheen Center Theater Festival (The Drill); The Gallery Players (Thou Shalt Not), GI60’s International One-Minute Theatre Festival, and Ball State University (Daughters of Trinity: Women of the Manhattan Project. Laura’s plays have received workshops with 3V Theater, One Bird Productions, Alaska’s Last Frontier Theatre Conference, KCACTF, and The Playwrights’ Center. Laura has directed through Athena Theater, Turn to Flesh Productions, The Tank (NYC premiere of Jason Hall’s thriller Third Floor) and Project Y (Parity Plays). Laura currently serves on the advisory board of Turn to Flesh Productions, after a three-year run as the company’s literary manager, selecting plays with “modern themes, classical styles.” Laura hails from Fort Wayne, Indiana and graduated from Ball State University with a B.A. in theatre production for directing, summa cum laude.