By Emily Attebery
Every so often there comes a chance for a director to work not only in the theatre he cherishes, but with the family he also loves.
“The night before the Crucifixion is said to be more upsetting and more distressing to Jesus than the actual Crucifixion,” said Dr. David Crawford, theatre professor. “Yet we know so little about it. So I decided to explore that and this is what we find.”
Crawford had the opportunity to write and direct the play, “The Olive Press,” and while in the process cast his sons Caden Crawford as Jesus and Cody Crawford as Satan.
Dr. Crawford spent three to four weeks writing the play, which is based upon the biblical account of Jesus’ experience in the garden of Gethsemane, the night before his Crucifixion. Crawford gathered inspiration from the scriptures and research on theologians and Charles Spurgeon’s 1863 sermon on Gethsemane.
“I heard three sermons on the Passion over a very short time,” said Crawford. “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?”
Crawford let the idea stew for four or five months before he began to write the play last summer.
“So that is what caught my attention,” said Crawford. “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?”
These works sparked his enthusiasm for the play, however it was being able to work with his sons that formed the most excitement.
“It’s a powerful piece, of course I’m always a fan of my father’s writing,” said Caden Crawford. “It’s powerful, emotional, it’s tough, it’s a difficult piece but I’ve enjoyed going through it, it helps bring you closer to the real thing.”
The play came together in a couple of months to be ready for it’s first performance.
“It’s been really cool how fast it’s been able to come along,” said Cody Crawford. “I feel confident that we will have a good emotion from the audience and that it will in some way affect them.”
Both Crawford sons are alumni of Tyler Junior College and have had past theatrical experience at the college.
“He [Dr. Crawford] had asked me several months back and I was not sure up until maybe three months ago if I was going to be able to, but with my schedule clearing I jumped at the chance” said Cody Crawford, recalling his father’s request of him to play the role of Satan. “I wanted to be in it and to work with him and to help deliver this play’s message and its story.”
The Tyler Junior College Theatre Department premiered “The Olive Press” on Friday, January 16th and Saturday January 17th.
“This [play] in particular I think could do a lot, it really could, I have a lot of high hopes for it,” said Caden Crawford. “It could do things.”
For more information on the Theatre Department and its upcoming schedule visit www.tjc.edu/events or call at 903-510-3242. Caption: At rehearsal, Caden Crawford as Jesus (bottom) and Cody Crawford as Satan (top).