With Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
"As many artists will attest, inspiration can come from anywhere. Some artists begin their process with a character in mind, others with a location. Many cite other artists or works of art for sparking a new thought or idea. Some artists are drawn to specific time periods or historical event are drawn to specific time periods or historical events. Other artists are inspired to write what they know."
Stephen Adly Guirgis has said he writes plays about what keeps him up at night. While writing Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, Stephen was thinking about a close friend who had joined a cult religion called The Unification Church, also known as the “Moonies,” after leader Sun Myung Moon. The Church’s doctrine combines western Christianity with Korean shamanism, and focuses on the belief that a single divine ruler can restore humans to the world of God’s ideal through procreative marriages. Young members of the church were often expected to fundraise constantly, and much of the money raised went directly into Moon’s personal business investments. This sentiment is echoed by Angel Cruz when he says, “How many Sons of God you know drive a Lexus? Or got million-dollar stock portfolios? Or go skiing in Aspen?” The Church is notorious for severe treatment of its members, including the use of sleep deprivation and isolation from outside friends and family that have been likened to brainwashing. In 1982, Moon was convicted of filing false US federal income tax returns and criminal conspiracy and was imprisoned for 18 months. Today, the Church is believed to have approximately 200,000 members in more than 100 countries.
“The genesis of the play was that a really close friend of mine joined The Unification Church, and there was a period of my life when I devoted a lot of time to trying to get him kidnapped and deprogrammed, and I went on stakeouts and I was planning to… but it never ended up working. And then I went to therapy, and I learned that people are going to do what they’re going to do and that I was so into getting him back because it was such a strong connection to my childhood. I think I was in a place where I wasn’t ready to move on into adulthood, so I was holding onto him in that way. Then in therapy, I just started getting on with my life a little bit. But I knew I would write about it someday. A few years later, when we did the play, the guy Joe that inspired the story came to the play.”
Stephen Adly Guirgis on Jesus Hopped The 'A' Train