Does hearing the words, “God hates you,” provoke you? Good. The new play #GodHatesYou wants to remind audiences that words can hurt, especially when amplified through social media.
#GodHatesYou is a new play receiving its first full production at UCF’s Pegasus PlayLab in June and August. The story follows Laurel who takes the message of her radical church to Twitter and is confronted with unexpected encounters, leading her to question the meaning of her faith, her relationship with God and the impact of her words.
This play was first seen in Orlando at Orlando Shakes’ Playfest 2018. “When we did the reading of #GodHatesYou last November, we really liked the play but in many ways the script seemed to be a better fit for UCF’s Pegasus PlayLab than for Orlando Shakes,” says Cynthia White, director of #GodHatesYou and Director of New Play Development at Orlando Shakes. “The central character is 26 and is just stepping out into a larger world and finding her voice, something you could say students do when they come to a university.”
Pegasus PlayLab at UCF is a new play festival in its second year dedicated to developing plays by emerging playwrights. The 2019 festival kicked off with a series of workshop readings where actors present new plays with minimal staging and scripts in-hand in front of an audience. #GodHatesYou is this year’s full developmental production, meaning a script that has already been polished through workshops and readings and is ready to introduce the elements of sets, costumes and lighting.
That’s not to say that this is the final product. The cast and playwright are still digging deeper into these characters and discovering what their journey holds. “Exploring the characters and building relationships within the play, I have been impressed by the way the words resonate,” comments White. “On the surface, one could see a group of rigid and angry fanatics, but we find as we dig deeper, a group of people who think they are saving the world and deeply believe that they love everyone.”
If there is something to take away from this play, according to White, it’s “Words matter.” The main character, Laurel, is opened to new ideas and thoughts when she talks to people outside of her constrictive religious bubble. When she sees that her words cause harm, she must reconsider her entire life. “She comes to the conclusion that she doesn’t just need to ask for God’s forgiveness, but for humanity’s forgiveness.”
Although this play covers several heavy themes, there’s a bit of levity as well. “Did I mention there’s an amazing amount of humor in the play?” says White. #GodHatesYou is full of enormous contradictions, but it will take you on a fascinating and unexpected journey towards a better understanding of what makes us all human.
Pegasus PlayLab runs June 1 – 23 with an encore production of #GodHatesYou August 29 – September 1. Tickets, info and more at theatre.ucf.edu
#GodHatesYou | Main Stage
June 13-23 and August 29-September 1
By Emily Dendinger
Directed by Cynthia White
Having attended her first picket at five years old, Laurel is proud of the good work she has done in the name of the Lord. Groomed to be the next leader of her radical church, Laurel takes to Twitter to spread the Word. When her tweets are responded to by an agnostic college student, a rabbi and a few Twitter trolls, Laurel struggles to determine the true meaning of her faith and define her relationship with God.
Join us for a talkback with playwright Emily Dendinger on Thursday, June 13 and Friday, June 14.
On Thursday, August 29, we will be joined by WMFE’s very own Three Wise Guys for a post-show talkback about the play, religion and social media.