Solo Dramatic Performer
Ideal Use : programs addressing racism, the Holocaust, Christian anti-Semitism, nationalism, peace, justice and the relationship between church and state
Al Staggs is a performing artist, author, poet, comedian and former minister who performs one-person characterizations of Bonhoeffer, Clarence Jordan, Oscar Romero, Thomas Merton, William Sloane Coffin, Martin Luther King, Jr., Walter Rauschenbusch, William Stringfellow and others for conferences, churches and colleges throughout the U.S.
Since 1988 Al Staggs has performed his one-person drama, “A View from the Underside,” on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for audiences world wide. He has been selected for numerous college lectures and has presented the play to more than 100 college and university audiences throughout the U.S. and Canada. In 1998 he performed the play for President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter in Plains, Georgia. It also aired on national Catholic television and the Kaleidoscope Network. Al’s presentation has received acclaim from Vidal Sassoon, Martin Marty and the late Eberhard Bethge, Bonhoeffer’s best friend and biographer, who said of the performance, “It is astonishing fullness of both the personality and the message of Dietrich.”
Bill Moyers said, “When I watch Al Staggs as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I am confronted by the deepest moral questions of what it means to be a witness and how I am using my life.”The moving one-hour drama addresses issues of racism, the Holocaust, Christian anti-Semitism, nationalism, peace, justice and the relationship between church and state.
After his recent performance as Clarence Jordan at the Clarence Jordan Symposium where Jimmy Carter was speaking, the former president and his wife congratulated Al Staggs.
He also has new book of poetry titled A Pilgrim in Rome: Cries of Dissent. This poetry confronts issues of war and peace, injustice, greed, aberrant Christianity, empire and apathy.
Bill Moyers writes, “I read ‘A Pilgrim in Rome’ with great reward. Some of your insights-‘the death of a conscience’, ‘those who are being crucified this very day’-are stunning. You are a truth-teller, and I greatly admire you.”
Al Staggs holds a B. A. from Hardin-Simmons University, an M.R.E. degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, a Th.M. from Harvard Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He was honored as a Charles E. Merrill Fellow at Harvard in the spring of 1983 with major emphasis in Applied Theology under the direction of Harvey Cox. Al also completed a year internship in Clinical Pastoral Education at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. Al served as Baptist minister for twenty-four years prior to becoming a full-time performance artist.
Twenty years ago Rev. Al Staggs combined two passions by writing and performing a one-person play that takes his audience into the prison cell of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. A few years later he took the step of leaving the pastoral ministry and began a career as a full-time performing artist, adding characterizations of Clarence Jordan, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Thomas Merton and Walter Rauschenbusch to his repertoire of programs. He finds great satisfaction in bringing these notable figures to life and sharing their relevant messages with audiences throughout the world.
Here is an example of a program Al Staggs performed:
An Evening with Clarence Jordan & Oscar Romero
As Performed by Al Staggs
Clarence Jordan was a farmer, Baptist minister and biblical scholar who, in 1942, founded the interracial community of Koinonia in south Georgia. His perspective on Christian discipleship, particularly in regard to the issues of racial equality, war and greed, made him a highly controversial figure in his hometown of Americus and Sumter County, Georgia. Jordan’s life and theology were a radical embodiment of the teachings of Jesus, especially those from the Sermon on the Mount. In 1968 he and Millard Fuller founded Fund for Humanity, which later became Habitat for Humanity. He also authored the famous, “Cotton Patch Gospels”.
Father Oscar Romero is considered by some the unofficial patron saint of the Americas and is often referred to as “San Romero” by Catholic workers in El Salvador. On March 24, 1980, Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador was assassinated while delivering Communion following a Homily. Although he had once been a very conservative priest and Bishop, Romero nevertheless became a very vocal spokesperson for the rights of the poor in his nation. Romero’s death provoked international outcry for human rights reform in El Salvador.