Pontius Pilate will be put on trial for the death of Jesus Christ.
The trial is set for Saturday, Sept. 15, and Sunday, Sept. 16.
The courtroom will be the sanctuary at Magnolia Church of Christ.
A verdict of guilty or innocent will be decided by a pool of jurors chosen from audience members.
“The Case of Humanity vs. Pontius Pilate” will be different from the typical re-enactment of the crucifixion with actors in period costumes and Christ hanging on the cross, said organizes of the play at Magnolia.
It will examine Pilate’s role in the crucifixion. The setting will be present day. The actors will be in contemporary dress. The evidence will be based on facts that are 2,000 years old. The witnesses will be those present during the time of the crucifixion.
Actors portraying prominent biblical characters — Joseph, Esther, Mary Magdalene, Annas, Caiaphas — will testify at the trial.
Hugh Walker, who plays Joseph, said the play will be “historically enlightening,” putting into perspective the emotions and actions of the crucifixion.
Director Bill Freeman said the play’s writers bring these biblical characters to life. He is directing the play with his son, William Freeman, who, along with a few other actors, has been actively involved in local community theater.
The director said each actor has developed a strong knowledge of their character.
Lee Freeman, Magnolia member and Florence-Lauderdale Public Library’s genealogist, is to credit for that. He did research on each character, then used that research to educate each actor on the character they’re portraying.
Marco Ruiz, who portrays the court bailiff, said he wants this play to be convincing and hopes the audience will get involved and walk away with “a feeling for what it was like during this important time in history.”
Hannah Maples, a church youth who plays Pilate’s wife, Claudia Procula, said the play will be fast-paced and will hold the audiences’ attention.
“It’s not like the boring documentaries you want to sleep through,” she said.
Amber Anglin, another church youth, said “it gives teens something to relate to besides reading the story in a book.”
Audience members who would like to be a juror may register before each production begins. Twelve jurors will be chosen.
The verdict, the director said, is not scripted. It will be determined by the jurors as they gather information from the trial.
The church started its dramatic group two years ago to relay Christian principles through drama. Doug Van Dyke, Magnolia’s youth minister, said the church also wanted to begin using the acting talent of some of its members.
Previous plays have been geared more toward teens and the pressures they face, such as drug abuse and ethical dilemmas.
William Freeman said church leaders asked for a more biblically oriented performance this time.
Magnolia Church of Christ began in 1993. It derived its name from its first meeting place: the Magnolia Room of the Holiday Inn in Sheffield. The church also met on Court Street in Florence before moving to its current location off Veterans Drive in 2002.
Joe Van Dyke, Doug’s father, has served as the church’s minister since its founding.
Show times for “The Case of Humanity vs. Pontius Pilate” are at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, and 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16.
Admission is free, however, donations will be accepted. Magnolia Church of Christ is at 2650 Vulcan Ave., Florence.
Kelly Robinson Woods is a freelance writer living in the Shoals.