Actress portrays women in Gospels

By Laura Crowley

Arts & Life Editor

This past Saturday, acclaimed actress Nina Thiel played 36 characters and told 24 stories as the sole performer in her play “Always the Women.”

Thiel, the mother of John Thiel ’13, was excited to present her son’s school with her adaptation of the Gospels’ encounters with women. Thiel is a campus minister with the InterVarsity Christian fellowship at three universities and has brought her show to a number of colleges across the country. Through her play, Thiel seeks to contest conventional notions about Jesus’ encounters with women and show audiences how Jesus truly cared for all women. Thiel holds that Jesus never talked down to women. Rather, she believes that Jesus treated women as equals and forgave them of their sins as he would men.

By performing her interpretation of the Gospels’ stories, Thiel wants audiences “to see women elevated” and treated fairly by Jesus.

“I love playing Jesus. I love counteracting everything I’ve ever heard [about Jesus],” she said. Namely, Thiel loves bringing him to life as an impartial and sincere figure rather than a one-dimensional “pasty, white” man with blue eyes, as many may perceive him.

As the sole actress and producer, “[I am] bringing a lot of myself into this,” Thiel said. While she did work with an acting coach to master aspects of her performance, she made the executive decision to exclude certain parables stories and to portray certain stories in a given light. For instance, Thiel portrayed a repenting adulteress in one parable as a woman who was purely victim of a “set-up.”

Because Thiel is offering stories so close to her personal beliefs, she says parts of her play hit her differently and frequently result in her becoming overwhelmed with emotion. At the same time, she said she was forced to hold back laughter at lighter parts.

Perhaps because of this range of emotion, a member of the audience told her that she truly “brought Christ alive.” By presenting Jesus’ encounters with women from a new perspective, Thiel has inspired young audiences across the country to re-examine both Jesus and women in the gospels.

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