A Drama of Love and War

When it comes to the pain of war, not much has changed since the Vietnam era of the early ’70s, when G. Robert Jacks first produced Counterpoint at Princeton Seminary.

The liturgical drama, written by Swedish playwright Olov Hartman, was produced by Jacks again this fall as his inaugural presentation as the Arthur Sarell Rudd Professor of Speech Communication in Ministry. It tells the story of three furloughed soldiers and their wives, and a woman from "the other side," and their struggles and despair over the misery of war.

Seminarians Stephanie Arnold, Robert Brooks, Stephen DeMauri, Rebecca Gardner, James Hitson, Larissa Jay, and Kerstin Reinold explored the complex feelings of lovers reunited after separation and killing had come between them — with the haunting question of a stranger’s pregnancy overshadowing the reunions. The short, repeated phrases and carefully choreographed movements of the actors offered more an opera or a ballet than a traditional drama, and the unrelenting drumming of Drew Tatusko lent a somber rhythm to the whole.

"Counterpoint is about Good Friday and all that it connotes," says Jacks. "Hartman believed that whenever love and peace enter the world, whether through Jesus Christ, a Gandhi, or a Martin Luther King Jr., we crucify it."

Jacks spent his sabbatical last summer in Sweden, where he had first met and worked with Hartman in 1970. That first meeting led to the 1971 Seminary production, casting 1970-era alums Gail Anderson, Barbara Chaapel, Donna Hitner, Jeff Looker, Tom Miles, Steve Owen, and Mary Ann Wierks in the seven roles. Olov Hartman himself was in the Miller Chapel audience for that production.


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