Giving flesh to the words of John
By JEFFREY DAY
Posted on Fri, Jan. 21, 2005
The Gospel according to John starts: “In the beginning
was the Word, and the Word was with God; and the Word was God.”
For actor Brad Sherrill, there was also The Word. Then there
were 19,999 more.
Sherrill, a professional actor from Atlanta, decided five years
ago to memorize the Gospel according the John. He did it to deepen
his own long-held beliefs; it turned into his job.
The actor spends eight months a year performing the gospel.
“The response is a constant surprise to me,” Sherrill
said in a telephone interview from Atlanta. “I’m amazed
He most often performs at churches, but Sherrill also has played
to theater audiences in Atlanta, New York and Washington, D.C.
After two performances this weekend at Seven Oaks Presbyterian
Church, he has a monthlong gig at a Toronto theater.
The actor, artistic associate of the Georgia Shakespeare Festival,
was drawn to the Gospel of John because “it’s the
most poetic of the gospels. It has the least amount of reportage.”
It also provides Sherrill the chance to speak in many voices:
that of John, Christ, Peter and even Pilate.
“I really found my voice in this,” said Sherrill,
who has acted in 15 plays at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta.
He memorized the book as a spiritual quest and thought he might
perform it at Chamblee United Methodist, which he had attended
since he was a child.
“I was not having a spiritual crisis, but I was going from
show to show and found myself in plays I didn’t care much
about,” Sherrill said. “I was getting more and more
A devout Christian, he sees the play as a kind of ministry and
likes performing in theaters so he’s not literally preaching
to the converted. And, he said, “you’ll have people
come to the theater who would never enter a church.”
The core of the gospel and his performance are chapters 14 though
16, where Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the
“After 2,000, years that is still profound, and after 2,000
years we still don’t get it,” Sherrill said.