Dramatic lighting, moving music and actors layered in makeup—Living Gallery returns to BJU April 13-15 with performances at 4:30 and 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and an additional 2 p.m. performance on Saturday.
The annual tradition has become a staple in Greenville, drawing crowds from throughout the Southeast.
This year’s performance, The Savior’s Call, is the 19th presentation of Living Gallery since its conception in 1998.
Human models, the BJU Symphony Orchestra, vocalists and narrators will tell the story of Jesus from His early ministry in Galilee and up to His crucifixion and resurrection. The Savior’s Call highlights Christ’s invitation to His followers to “come, eat, drink and rest.”
Each of the four narrators, Peter, John, the Samaritan Woman, and Mary, Jesus’ mother, will expound on one facet of Christ’s invitation to humanity.
Using human models, enlarged recreations of classical artwork portray scenes from Christ’s life.
Featured recreations include Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper and Ghiberti’s Florence Baptistery Doors.
For the first time in Living Gallery’s history, projectors will be used to cast digital images on an entirely gray background and gray-coated models to recreate classical art.
“This is exciting because we don’t know anyone else doing projection mapping with fine art,” said Paul Radford, program director and head of the BJU department of communication studies.
Although enthusiastic for the innovation, Radford does not believe the new projection technology will replace the traditional sculpted, painted sets.
“It works as a special seasoning, but you wouldn’t want to make a full meal of it,” Radford said.
This year’s performance will feature Requiem for the Living by Dr. Dan Forrest, BJU alumnus and the composer of Jubilate Deo, performed as part of February’s artist series.
Radford said the music was chosen before the story and artwork.
“The themes came out of the music,” Radford said. “The goal was to make the message clear. The power of the music, the power of the visual artwork is like the artillery softening the ground for the foot soldiers, the acting.”
Unlike traditional requiems, the 40-minute, five-movement Requiem for the Living addresses not the deceased but the ones left behind.
Forrest described his work as a prayer for rest and peace despite loss.
“I particularly wanted to aim my requiem at the living,” Forrest said. “Every requiem is a prayer for the living: we sing it to each other as we commemorate people who have already passed on.”
While M&G’s main location is currently closed as it prepares for renovation, M&G will still play an active part in The Savior’s Call.
In addition to promoting the program to its constituents, M&G will display two exhibits in Rodeheaver lobby during the performances and a larger exhibition in the Fine Arts Building Atrium.
M&G’s own Christ and the Samaritan Woman by French artist Francois de Troy will appear in one of the Rodeheaver exhibits and be recreated within The Savior’s Call.
M&G director Erin Jones explained the relationship M&G has with Living Gallery.
“We try to at least have one work [in Living Gallery] every year so that we are a real partner,” Jones said. “And both of us, BJU and M&G, then get to have the heart of our mission shine in an unusual way in this big program.”