The Sistine Chapel Dramatic Sketches

We had three successful days performing our dramatic sketches in the replica Sistine Chapel at penangpac. The four sketches were meant to enhance the viewing of the chapel paintings by telling stories related to the painters or their subjects.

“The Heavyweight Fight of the Ages: Almighty God vs. Nothingness” – this one focused on several of Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling dealing with the creation.

“Apathy” focused on Michelangelo’s paintings about Adam & Eve.

“Moses & Michelangelo” (the only one not written by me – it was well written by Jackie Ashkin following a concept of mine) dealing with the paintings of Moses and the biographical background of Michelangelo.

“The Life of Christ in Verse” focused on the paintings of the life of Christ in sort of rhythmic poem that blended the themes of four poems into one.

The actors did a great job rotating their skits in and out of the chapel. They performed a total of ten times over three days to a bunch of different people. Here are a couple photographs from opening night:


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Good Friday Original: The Life of Christ in Verse (A Sistine Chapel sketch)

On this Good Friday, I thought I’d take this moment to share with you a new dramatic sketch I wrote. Actually, it’s more of a rhythmic poem in a sense, based on some paintings in the Sistine Chapel. Some of my young actors will be performing this at the Penang Performing Arts Centre in May as part of our Fine Arts Week and the replica Sistine Chapel display. I’m very pleased to share the full script below as a way to celebrate this holy week for Christians. When you read it, put some rhythm into it! And to all those who celebrate, have a blessed weekend. 

The Life of Christ in Verse     by    Mark W. Sasse

This was inspired by the following four paintings of the life of Christ in the Sistine Chapel.

  • Temptation of Christ by Sandro Botticelli
  • The Sermon on the Mount, by Cosimo Rosselli
  • The Delivery of the Keys by Pietro Perugino
  • The Last Supper by Cosimo Rosselli

This is the Life of Christ in verse.

The key Christ gave Peter.

The ability to open the doors of,

Salvation

provide the way,

the blessed key,

Peter,

The blessed key,

He was given,

by our Lord and Savior

Salvation,

blessed are the hungry

for they shall eat

at the Last Supper

Of Christ

Where he took the wine

Blessed are those who thirst

And he took the bread

Blessed are those who hunger

Broken and bloody for you,

After righteousness

Salvation

That’s the key,

Peter’s key,

the one given to him by Christ

Blessed are the poor in spirit

They will inherit

Blessed are the meek

For they shall sit at Christ’s feet

At the last supper

and the bread will dip in the wine

of the one who was tempted

more than he could bear

the key

temptation

blessed are the poor in heart

the key

temptation

will not overcome

will not lead to salvation

for Christ was tempted by

Satan

the devil

The evil one

Satan

gave it all to him

but it wasn’t his to give

That’s the key

of Peter

Leads to salvation

but the one at the Last Supper

with the bread dipped in the wine

temptation

the one who would betray

not three times like Peter

but for all time

Temptation

he wanted it all

Satan said it could all be his

30 pieces of silver for Judas

All the kingdoms of the world for Christ

but it wasn’t his to give

And the one at the supper

with the bread dipped in

fell to the temptation

but Christ said

Blessed are those who hate you

that’s the key

blessed are the peacemakers

Peter’s key

blessed are those

persecuted

tempted but not fallen

lied about

but not for Christ’s sake

That’s the key

Salvation

to overcome temptation

Salvation

the key Christ gave peter

to open up the door

and this is the life of Christ

Blessed are the poor in spirit

who sit with Jesus at the last supper

Blessed are the meek

Who resist temptation

the convincer Satan

who says that all is yours

but it isn’t his to give

Blessed are those who mourn

For their sin, washed away after the last supper

for they will be comforted

Blessed are those who hunger

at the last supper

who eat the body and drink the blood

who stand in the wilderness and resist

temptation

who receive the keys that Peter received

salvation

for those who are persecuted

Blessed they are

Who sit at his feet and hunger and thirst

Blessed they are

and when we have temptation

blessed are the merciful

and when we have persecution

blessed are those who mourn

for their sin

for the temptation

for the bread dipped in the wine

it could have been you

blessed are the poor in spirit

it could have been me

blessed are the meek

we could have fallen

temptation

out of salvation

but he came to give Peter the keys

and that is the key

we have received

but will we use it

we will abuse it when we are tempted

but he is merciful

because of what he did

the day after

the last supper

which wasn’t the last

the temptation wasn’t the fall

he died

but it wasn’t the end

blessed are the poor in spirit

who yield to temptation

but receive his mercy

who had bread dipped in wine

but receive his mercy

who desire the whole world to bow

but receive his mercy

who would fall at the feet of the prince of this world.

but because of the last supper

and the sacrifice the next day

and that is the key

Peter’s key

to open the door

It’s yours.

For blessed are those who are tempted,

Who receive the bread dipped in the wine,

but who hear the sermon on the mount

and receive the keys of Peter as your own,

rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.

And this is the life of Christ in verse.

The Sistine Chapel Dramatic Sketches

Our school is pretty cool. Each May we have a week we designate as our Fine Arts Festival where we have band concerts, live theatre (that’s my category), and art displays. We hold it at the Penang Performing Arts Centre. It’s a great event. My original musical, “Boardwalk Melody”, will be debuting during that week this year. More on that later.

The art department approached me a while back and said they they were going to make a replica of the Sistine Chapel. It will be about 8ft high, 12×8 ft in measurement. The young artists are working on recreating Michelangelo’s masterpieces for the ceiling, as well as a few of the other murals. The art department wanted me to write some dramatic sketches which could be performed in the chapel during the festival in order to help them understand the works.

I readily agreed and then quickly asked my writing buddy Jackie to see if she wanted to write one of the sketches while I took the other three. She agreed. And now they are all complete. I just finished editing Jackie’s sketch this afternoon, and it’s a fine script called “Reluctance”, it pairs Moses with Michelangelo as they banter back and forth talking about the art. It’s a fun dramatic piece that everyone will enjoy.

Here are the brief synopses of the three that I wrote which focus mainly on Michelangelo’s works:

Sketch 1: “The Greatest Heavyweight Fight of the Ages: Almighty God vs. Nothingness” – this one focuses on his works of creation from the viewpoint of a boxing broadcaster and his color analyst. It will be fun and entertaining.

Sketch 2: “Apathy” – this one focuses on the creation of man and woman and banishment from the Garden of Eden. I focused this one on God’s attempt to reach man but man’s continual lackluster and limp-wristed efforts to reach back to God. The imagery of the limp wrist, of course, comes from Michelangelo’s iconic painting of creation of man. It’s a fairly poignant and interesting piece.

Sketch 3: “The Life of Christ in Verse” – this one focuses on Rosselli’s and others’ paintings on the life of Christ. I decided to do something different on this and wrote a lyrical, rhythmic chant which combines the imagery and meaning behind the four paintings: Sermon on the Mount, Delivery of the Keys, The Last Supper, and The Temptation of Christ.

I really enjoyed writing these. I’ll be working with some of the actors over the next five weeks as they prepare for the mini-shows. It’s going to be a lot of fun and will bring some meaning and drama to the Sistine Chapel.

If you are going to be in Penang the week of May 22, please come and check it out!