Hell House and the Truth

I’ve just walked in my door feeling thoroughly inspired. Waleed Aly is the man. Scott Stephens, Dr Benjamin Myers, and Clare Bowditch are pretty damn cool too. These four brought their blazing intellects to bear on a rather unusual play we’d all just seen together. I’ve never seen such an engaging panel discussion.

The play was Hell House, put on by Back to Back Theatre at the Arts House Meat Market, North Melbourne. (Within walking distance of my new house, just quietly). I feel a bit strange calling it a play though. The performance was originally created by an evangelical preacher in Texas in the seventies. It was and is essentially a fundamentalist Christian haunted house, filled with illustrative sinners being damned. The intention is to frighten the audience–especially the teenage audience–away from the sins of homosexuality, pre-marital sex, alcoholism, etc. One of the original creators of the thing distributes scripts and instruction sets (including fake blood recipes) to help other Churches set up Hell Houses. Back to Back got themselves one of those packages, and set up a faithful recreation, far from the Bible belt. The program explains that they intended to “present the work as a museum would a religious artefact.” Continue reading

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