Staff writer Emily Atteberry interviews David Crawford about the Second Stage production of “The Olive Press”, an original work by Crawford.
Emily Atteberry: What is your specific position at TJC?
David Crawford: Professor, theatre professor. I was the department chair for 25 years and decided to give it up for fun.
Emily Atteberry: What experience do you have with theatre?
David Crawford: I have been here 39 years, so 41 years teaching, doctoral work, I have a PHD in theatre, published play write and works done on Broadway, and professional education.
Emily Atteberry: So you wrote the play “The Olive Press,” can you tell me what it is about?
David Crawford: The night before the Crucifixion is said to be more upsetting and more distressing to Jesus than the actual Crucifixion and yet we know so little about it. So I decided to explore that and this is what we find. I stick to the scripture as far as they take us and then I did some research on theologians and I did some work on Spurgeon. Charles Spurgeon’s 1863, I think, sermon on Gethsemane. I based the play totally on scriptures and some of him.
Emily Atteberry: So exactly how long did it take you to write the play?
David Crawford: It was formulating and stewed and steeped, oh God, four or five months. I actually sat down and wrote it, last summer, in three or four weeks, but you are never through with it. You know that. You will sit here and edit this and edit it and every time to read it you will change something and every time you go to a rehearsal you will change something.
This is what we are doing and the first thing you want to do, not like you do. [You] fix it like you do for the reading, and so every performance is geared towards the watching. I am continually updating and revising up to some point.
Whenever the point is that I actually have it published, my publisher will send me a contract and on every single page I have to sign, saying this page is as it is and it won’t be changed. So up to that point it will stay the same and I have gone back to him and renegotiated contracts to change some words and he went for it. You never know. Is it ever done?
Emily Atteberry: So you mentioned the scripture and Charles Spurgeon, was that all your inspiration or did you get it from any where else?
David Crawford: I had heard three sermons on the Passion over a very short time. I heard three sermons and I read a book three times over this act and it disturbed me and it bothered me, and bothered me, and bothered me and it disturbed me. Because, why would Jesus be so distressed? We don’t know. He was stressed. He was in anxiety. He was, what’s a good word, he was to the point of bleeding, sweating blood because he was so under stress.
We can say he was taking the sins of the world upon himself. What does that mean? You can say what you want because he was not talking a whole lot. He was feeling and the idea here is he was sweating blood. Is that possible. Of course, Psychologist will tell you. Doctors will tell you and actually there is a name. So he was extremely, what’s a good word, he was so stressed-out, but to the point of mega, mega, mega times. We can’t even comprehend the stress that he was under. We kind of think we know, but what I’ve I come to find out is answered by the play. You’re going to see the play and you can tell me.
So that is what caught my attention. The idea that it is all drama, heavy drama. What sacrifice did Christ actually make? To what degree did that sacrifice cost him, besides his life, because the Crucifixion is no comparison to what he went through the night before.
Emily Atteberry: What would you say excites you the most about the play, besides the actual story?
David Crawford: Working with my sons. Both of my sons are in it and they are not students, they are alumni and they are both alumni from the theatre department. They both grew up in the theatre because (Crawford chuckles). They both had numerous trips to New York. They’ve both seen plays in New York. They both have been in plays before.
The play will be preformed on Jan. 16 and 17 in the Jean Brown theatre at 7:30 pm. Admission is freed. A full story will be added before 10 am Saturday morning about the play.