Mark St. Germain’s The God Committee might feel to some like a mashup of 12 Angry Men and ER. Unfolding in real time, it showcases the behind-the-scenes workings of how a committee at a New York hospital decides who gets a donor heart that has just become available.
“It’s fascinating subject matter,” says Kevin Dean, artistic director of A.D. Players, which opens the play this week. “We get a look at how these decisions are made.”
Instead of following any particular character, The God Committee essentially follows the heart itself. There are three patients who could be its recipient. And it’s up to a hospital committee made up of a surgeon, a resident, a nurse, a social worker, a psychiatrist, a doctor, and a priest who serves on the hospital’s board to determine who’s the best candidate.
“I did a play in Philadelphia called Under the Skin that looked at organ donation from the perspective of someone receiving a kidney transplant,” says director Alice Gatling, who is making her directorial debut on the A.D. stage with the show (she appeared in the company’s The Best of Enemies). “But this is really different. It’s about how people make these kinds of decisions and how our experiences shape us in making them.”
Both Gatlin and Dean say they support organ donorship, and both note the idea that one person can potentially save many lives in the process. They’re hoping the show helps make people more aware of the practice and how vital it is.
“Organ donation statistics are kind of scary,” says Dean, who is a donor himself. “I think I read that something like 95 percent of people support organ donation, but only 50 or so percent of people are actual donors.”
For Dean, the show is about how we are all in this life together, and the impacts we can have on one another. He feels the subject matter fits securely into A.D. Players’ mission to produce compelling theater from a Christian worldview that engages a diverse audience.
“Illness affects people from all walks of life; it doesn’t discriminate,” he says. “A show like this demonstrates how we can help each other, and gives people insight into how the [organ donation] process unfolds.”
Like 12 Angry Men, which takes place in a jury room, The God Committee unfolds in a hospital conference room, with the actors sitting around the table. That’s been one of the highlights for Gatlin as a director.
“We’ve been working on how do we create action in a static environment,” she says. “Liz Freese’s set is great, and this is such a dynamic group of actors. I think the audiences will find there’s a lot of tension and feeling in the show.”
Dean notes that after the performances on Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, June 2, audiences can stay after the show for a discussion about organ donation, and that it’s likely there will be literature in the theater’s lobby about how to become a donor.
“I’d love it if our audiences came away from this with a greater understanding of the need for organ donors and knowing just what happens in the process.”
May 17–June 2. Tickets from $20. A.D. Players, 5420 Westheimer Rd. 713-526-2721. More info and tickets at adplayers.org.