Thursday, June 22, 2006

Jesus' Guantánamo Years

It was during a sojourn in Paris, when Abie Philbin Bowman let his hair grow long to match his beard, and had strangers in the street shouting “hey! Jesus” at him, that the idea for Jesus: The Guantánamo Years first came to him.

“It just occurred to me one day how much Jesus would have looked like the people who get sent to Guantánamo …” A scene in which Jesus comes to face to face with US Immigration blowhards (and admits his leanings towards religious martyrdom) popped immediately into his mind. Pretty soon, a whole show was taking shape.

Philbin Bowman, a son of the well-known family, admits to being heavily involved with debating while at school, but grew uncomfortable with that pastime when he came to study at TCD. After some forays into the singer-songwriting game (“the business of singing the same songs over and over again was just boring for me”) he fell into stand-up.

“I enjoyed doing all the blather between songs much more than the songs themselves. And I suddenly realised that the people who just did the talking bit were called comedians…”

Last year he lit out for the territories of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to see what this whole comedy thing was about. “I saw 30 shows in a week – which turned out to be just a tiny fraction. But when you see that many shows in a week, you get that this works, this doesn’t. And one of the things I realised was that for me an hour of joke after joke was a bit empty. What I wanted to see, what I wanted to do, was something that also had a bit of substance.”

Last Winter he produced his first solo show in the Players Theatre at TCD, an initial run of Jesus: The Guantánamo Years, which he has now polished and updated for its first professional outing at Project.

Bowman has something of a history of provoking the ire of Americans. It was his column for the Dubliner magazine that lead to the publication’s removal from some Dublin hotels after complaints about his un-PC views on the events of September 2001, which suggested the WTC attack was not an unprovoked one. These days he seems to frame that piece as a thought exercise that got misinterpreted.

And despite the sound of things, Jesus: The Guantánamo Years has organised religion in its sites just as much as the crimes of the US hegemony.

“It is more a show about religion than people expect,” says Philbin Bowman. “People expect it to be about American foreign policy. But in fact, it is also about religion too… The Jesus story is central to our culture whether we are religious or not. One of the key things about Jesus is that they were pretty iconoclastic. And comedy is like that too. But religions just aren’t ever very iconoclastic.”


Blogger matthk said...

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wouldja ever answer my emails?
(or give me an address what works proper like)

I have a wee (pretty) favour to ask.

buzz me on +44 7905 371 763

this comment will self destruct in 5 days (or whenever you delete it)


10:33 AM  
Blogger matthk said...

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10:35 AM  

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