PRESS RELEASE: Recreation of ancient storytelling experience reignites humanity and hope
Stefan Smart will be bringing his widely acclaimed one-man play, I AM MARK, back to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on August 13-17 2019, offering the opportunity to experience Mark’s Gospel live as intended, rather than confined to the pages of scripture.
The premiere presentation of this landmark production drew rave reviews from audiences at the 2018 Fringe and continues to draw enthusiastic crowds at performances throughout the UK. Smart’s ground-breaking solo piece is an audacious word-for-word dramatisation of The Gospel According to Mark, as Smart explains:
“The Bible is the best-selling book in the world; there have been nearly 5 billion copies of the book distributed worldwide. And yet most people haven’t read it and most of us are not aware of the dramatic and compelling narrative offered in the Gospels.
Mark’s Gospel has got to be the most exciting book in the whole Bible. It’s action-packed, fast-paced, intriguing, entertaining, moving and disturbing by turns. Most of all, Mark’s portrait of his enigmatic hero, and his radical life of welcome and inclusivity, continues to fascinate people everywhere, regardless of whether they are religious or not.
Of course, this story is not a new one. But part of the reason for putting on this production was to recreate the powerful feelings of hope and spiritual transformation it evoked when it was first told all those centuries ago by roving storytellers like myself. In the largely oral culture of the 1st Century, Mark’s message spread like wildfire, challenging and even usurping the prevailing religious and political system. Experience tells me that Mark’s ‘script’ has lost none of its capacity to inspire and unsettle its audiences, despite its ancient origins.
If you’re just looking for a great evening’s entertainment, St Mark’s got it all – a completely captivating eyewitness account of love, hate, murder and self-sacrifice. But it also packs a powerful revolutionary message, one that has truly lasted the test of time.”
The very first incarnations of the play were performed in open air settings, like public parks or festivals, as Mark himself might have done. But as Smart’s performance has matured, so have the venues, with the biblical saga now staged in more theatrical settings. His performances at the 2018 Fringe were eye-opening for Smart, as he states:
“The reactions from the audiences at the Fringe – spellbound and deeply touched – helped me to see that we really had something here, as it highlighted that even people who are not familiar with the Bible and have no interest in religion can still see the humanity and hope that this story offers.”
Smart went to work bringing in additional help to make the play even more stage worthy. After consulting with a US theatrical producer and bringing in a UK director and a new marketing team, this year’s production will present a new and upgraded version of the 2000-year old story, as Director, Lisa Gilmour states:
“This new ‘Mark’ is more nuanced, cleaner, theatrically thoughtful and altogether more contemplative and profound. You can ‘see’ the characters in the Bible coming to life before your eyes, you can feel the wind and smell the salt air, even so far as to sense yourself becoming part of the action. I am sure audiences will enjoy the experience and continue to treasure it long after the event.”
Praise for I Am Mark
“If you think you already know the story…think again. Captivating drama. Mesmerising storytelling. Undeniable Truth.” – Dan Angus, Solent MIND
“Enthralling! Letting go of intellectual engagement, I got immersed in a dynamic, moment by moment encounter with the Living Jesus. It made all other public reading of Scripture dull and second-hand in comparison.” – Canon Marion Syms, Portsmouth Cathedral
“As a person who is sceptical and likes to keep an open mind, I AM MARK is very different to typical preaching. It’s so impressive to watch someone who has honed the skilled craft of memorising and relaying an entire book of the Bible. Go. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate this.” – Sarah Angus, Learning Disabilities Support Worker
“Respect! Stefan’s performance was very strong.” – BBC Songs of Praise
Tickets can be purchased through any Edinburgh Fringe Festival ticket outlet.