The life of Jesus is something that has been explored countless times, but rarely is it portrayed as controversially as in Alexander Nye’s new historical play, Son Of Man. In this provocative story, Jesus’s journey is bound to shock many as he progresses from illegitimate child to “Son of God”, but not before making a bitter choice that will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Just Celebrity was lucky to grab an interview with Alexander Nye, the writer of ‘Son Of Man’ about some of the more controversial elements of the play and what inspired him to start writing.
Just Celebrity: Hi Alexander. When you initially started writing Son Of Man, did you already have a clear idea of the story from start to finish, or did it evolve as you wrote it?
Alexander: There was a basic outline but a lot of the details came with the research. I read the Bible concurrently with the writing and re-combined a lot of the ideas there into a fresh narrative. So for example, both atheists and prostitutes are mentioned in the Bible. But there weren’t any atheist prostitutes and so I created one for the play.
JC: Where did you gather your information from in order to construct the story?
A: From the Bible mostly but also from books that were left out of it. Such as the Infancy Gospels – stories that were meant to fill in “the missing years” of Jesus between his birth and baptism. These are fascinating stories to get a sense of how early Christians saw Jesus. He is very bratty in them – often using his supernatural powers to wither people on the spot or even strike them dead.
JC: You spent a long time as a musician before deciding to develop your writing skills. What inspired you to make this creative detour?
A: At the time of the detour, I was chiefly inspired by how brilliant and subversive the HBO series “The Wire” was. It really encouraged me to explore my own voice.
JC: Son Of Man deals with some controversial ideas – is that something you were confident writing about, or did it worry you that some people might react negatively to your work?
A: I purposefully strove to not self-censor when writing this play. Which, when dealing with a figure as divisive and compelling as Jesus, is very hard not to do. I am worried about negative reactions but all reactions will be for the best in the end. I am not only writing to get my ideas heard but to get similar perspectives out there in the future, like Foucalt says ““I don’t write a book so that it will be the final word; I write a book so that other books are possible, not necessarily written by me.”
JC: Do you think you would prefer writing for theatre than for film or television?
A: I love writing for either.
JC: Jesus is the central character in Son Of Man. What made you choose the subject matter? Was it already of interest to you?
A: He’s not actually! The central character is the teacher who takes pity on his “bastard” status and teaches him “the son of God” philosophy. Jesus is obviously at the centre of the traditional gospel and this is what makes our piece different. Here he is the student rather than the teacher.
I chose the subject matter because I have a deep interest in Christian mythology as a result of going to a very liberal Anglican school as a kid.
JC: How long did it take you to write Son Of Man? Was it a long process?
A: It took a long time and the process is on-going. This story is 2000 years in the making!
JC: What project would you like to focus on next?
A: I have a few film ideas lined up next. I’d also like to make a documentary film and a musical.
JC: Why do you think that theatre is important in comparison to film and television
A: Because it’s natural and equally satisfying on a primal level. Though I do think there should be more of it on Youtube.
JC: What would you like audiences to take away from Son Of Man?
A: A new-found love of Christology. That is, the theoretical study of how “divine” Jesus really was. Also, the uninhibited desire to seek out more knowledge about comparative religion and mythology in general.
JC: Thank you for speaking to us today, Alexander!