Luther’s Trumpet, a hybrid production, ready to appear on screens

Two prominent stage actors in Washington, D.C., Edward Gero and Craig Wallace, go head-to-head as Martin Luther and Pope Leo X in Luther’s Trumpet, presented by George Mason University’s School of Theater as a digital, pre-recorded performance, available through Mason Arts at Home.

Acclaimed historian James Reston, Jr. adapted his 2016 book Luther’s Fortress into this new dramatic work for the stage that will leave you pondering questions about faith, justice, priestly celibacy, and standing up against authoritarianism. Luther’s Trumpet stars professional actors including Edward Gero as Martin Luther, Kevin Murray (Interim Director of the School of Theater) as Tetzel, and Craig Wallace as Pope Leo X. Judge David Tatel (U.S. Court of Appeals) reprises the role of the Devil, which he portrayed in the 2018 premiere production at the Stone Hill amphitheater.

The production is directed by Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts Rick Davis. Mason students join community and faculty actors in this “hybrid” production recorded from the Center for the Arts Concert Hall, employing the Moving Story Window Wall projection technology (developed at Mason) in order to blend scenic effects and on-stage actors with others appearing remotely.

Luther’s Trumpet is available to watch from Friday, May 28 at 8 p.m. until Saturday, May 29 at 11:59 p.m. The performance is free, but registration is required.

“We’re bringing together some of region’s top professional actors, talented Mason theater students, and outstanding community performers in a production space unlike any other I’ve ever seen—a true hybrid of in-person action on stage interacting with a world created online via Zoom,” said Davis. “This is both a pandemic accommodation and an experiment in post-pandemic techniques that will stretch our imaginations and, if it works, will set us free from some of our traditional space constraints.”

In Luther’s Trumpet Martin Luther’s Reformation is under siege in the pivotal and dramatic months after Luther famously nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. (Reston’s book was published in 2016 to mark the 500th anniversary of the 95 Theses.)

In 1521, the Catholic Church hunts for the excommunicated monk now branded a heretic, seeking to silence him—by burning him at the stake if necessary—and suppress his Reformation Movement. But Luther’s followers arrange for him to hide in Wartburg Castle.

There, incognito, and despite formidable external foes like Pope Leo X and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and while waging internal battles with the Devil, Martin Luther translates the New Testament into German and struggles with his compulsory celibacy as a Catholic priest. When he emerges from his fortress after eight months, stronger and more determined, his Reformation gives birth to Protestantism, and the Christian religion is forever transformed.

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