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Marshall W. Mason and ASU’s Herberger College Theatre present “J.B.,” addressing themes of God and Sept. 11

January 08, 2003

WHAT: The Herberger College of Fine Arts Department of Theatre at ASU presents “J.B.,” written by Archibald McLeish and directed by Marshall W. Mason.

Mason, one of the most celebrated directors in America, will transform this 1959 Pulitzer Prize-winning play to address the events of 9-11 and the “terrorist tactics God allows to plague mankind.” It will address the age-old question of why bad things happen to good people.

Mason is the founding artistic director of New York’s famed Circle Repertory Company and cited as one of the most-influential directors in the 20th Century. Mason also is a theatre professor in the Herberger College of Fine Arts at Arizona State University.

The play is a version of the story of Job, a “perfect and upright man.” Mason intends to connect the ageless question: Why does God allow bad things to happen? with the tragedies of September 11.

WHEN: Feb. 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 at 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 16 and Feb. 23 at 2 p.m. The performance on Feb. 16 will also be sign language interpreted.

WHERE: Paul V. Galvin Playhouse, 51 E. 10th St. on the ASU campus in Tempe.

TICKETS: $14 adults, $12 seniors, faculty and staff; $5 students.


Mason says he intends the play to serve as a mirror of contemporary America and the challenges to our faith that define our nation's current history.

“My production will take a post-9/11 view of all these things, posing very difficult questions about the terrorist tactics God allows to plague mankind – wherein our “perfect and upright” country was severely tested by people claiming to act on behalf of their God.

“J.B. is about a secure American family and their secure belief in God, which is severely tested by war, rape, drugs, careless teenage drunk drivers, disease, divorce and finally, the total devastation of their city,” Mason says. “It will present in imagery of our contemporary world: war in the Middle East, Islamic/Judeo-Christian conflict, AIDS, the heroism of firefighters.”


  • “Job repents, not knowing what he has been guilty of. Should America? Yes. It’s not that we have been wrong, but that we have not been right.”
  • “Why is there evil? Hunger? Disease, war, hate? After 9-11, one of the first things that occurred to me was, what is it that we have done to deserve this? On 9-10, we were the ‘perfect and upright nation.’ Blessed, strong, rich, favored by God. September 11 shook our convictions, shook us to the very core.”

  • “There is the actual Book of Job in the Bible; then, 50 years ago, we have Archibald McLeish’s take on that; and now almost 50 years later, we have my approach. There are three perspectives, three elements, to these timeless questions.”

  • “This production is not a pop art reaction. It is deeply metaphoric. I hope the experience of watching the performance will be very visceral. Anyone who remembers watching those towers fall should resound with the images of watching J.B. and his wife being stripped of their worldly goods.”

  • “September 11 made us look at, what are our real values? It made us think about what our real nature is. That is the good aspect of 9-11; it has made us re-examine our basic beliefs and values.”

    Media Contact:
    Megan Krause