Bloody, biblical musical on stage

An encore of the original musical Terror Texts, from the Old Testament, will take the stage in Northwestern College’s England Theatre on Nov. 14 and 15 at 10 p.m. and Nov. 19–22 at 7:30 p.m. The play, which has been entered into two playwriting competitions, was scripted by Northwestern theatre professor Jeff Barker.

A line in the opening song, “Our story here begins with blood and ends with even more,” introduces six Old Testament stories of misogyny, murder and mayhem that rarely are taught in Sunday school or preached from the pulpit.

Why these stories? Barker, who has been exploring Old Testament stories as plays and directs Terror Texts, says, “I suppose I created this musical because I got cheated in Sunday school. Teachers told me they revered the Bible, but they didn’t teach me all of it.

“Once I read it myself, I felt ripped off. If the Bible is truly a text worthy of our attention—and I believe it is—why not take time to discover all of it? And why not do that together, in a public setting like the theatre?”

Audience members who want a preview of Terror Texts action can read II Kings 6:24-7:20, II Kings 2:23-25, II Samuel 6:1-23, Judges 3:12-30, Joshua 7:2-26, and Judges chapters 19 to 21.

“It’s difficult to understand where these stories fit within the gospel’s message,” says Barker, “especially when a person is reading them. It’s a different effect when you see the stories enacted,” he adds, explaining that while reading the stories can leave one feeling repulsed and confused, seeing the stories of injustice, mistreatment and deep human suffering might foster empathy.

“Once we’ve looked at human suffering that closely, it has the potential to change the way we relate to others. Our lives might be lived with greater humility, care and gratitude,” says Barker.

Musical styles for the production include traditional choir music, jazz, ballads and industrial rock. The original arrangements and compositions are by Joseph Barker, formerly of Orange City, and Heather Josselyn-Cranson, a Northwestern music professor. At the end of Act 1, audience members in the front rows will be invited to a mosh pit onstage. Would-be moshers should request front-row seats when they reserve their tickets.

The dancers, chorus and onstage band feature several local students: Josh Doorenbos, Boyden, plays guitar in the band. Dan Laird, Orange City, is the fight choreographer and a dancer. Cody Raak, Sioux Center; Daniel Sikkema, Hospers; Molly Te Slaa, Rock Valley; and Katie Buntsma, Andrew Edman and Drew David Vander Werff, Orange City, are members of the play’s chorus.

Tickets for Terror Texts are $5. The DeWitt Theatre box office opens Nov. 3 for Theatre Patrons; it is open Nov. 4 to 22 for the general public.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting the box office between 4 and 9 p.m. Monday through Friday or between noon and 5 p.m. on Saturday. The box office can also be reached by phone, 712-707-7098, or e-mail,