The year is 1960. “The Piety Variety Gospel Show” is a locally televised religious program that blesses folks between church services with music, religious news, and much more. But now the host, Brother Shelby Greene, faces a crisis. With new regulations that require him to start paying for his airtime, how will he raise the money and stay true to his calling? This is a comic tale about becoming a televangelist when selling religious items, having nice hair, and asking for money on air was something new. A singing quartet performs ten well-known hymns, and there is an option to include local talent acts. A band can accompany the quartet. About 90 minutes.
PLAYWRIGHT SCOTT ICENHOWER TALKS ABOUT HIS PLAY
THE PIETY VARIETY GOSPEL SHOW
1. What inspired you to write this play?
I have an opinion about some of the religious programing I’ve seen and was inspired to write a play that touched on that subject.
2. What's your favorite part or line in the play? Why?
My favorite line is: “That’s right Brother Shelby this prayer cloth has BS written all over it.” I didn’t plan that line. It just happened while I was writing the scene. Being able to use Brother Shelby’s initials to sneak in a comment like that was an unexpected pleasure.
3. Where did the characters come from? Are they based on people you know?
The character of Parks was inspired by the sweet spirits of two elderly gentlemen in my home church – both of whom were named Parks.
4. What did you try to achieve with this play?
Clean entertainment is what I hope to achieve with this play. And subtlety, maybe it could cause a few people to think more critically of what I call Professional Christianity.
5. Do you have anything else you'd like to add?
In our self-produced version we incorporated different acts from around the community. It created a fun atmosphere, gave us a different angle for advertising, and brought new folks to the theatre.