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By Archibald MacLeish

Department of Theatre & Drama

Power Center for the Performing Arts

December 6 - 9, 2007


The Story:
J.B. is an exalting morality play based on the biblical story of Job. Two members of a traveling circus, Mr. Zuss and Nickles, take up the roles of God and the Devil respectively to test the faith of man. Nickles insists that inordinate suffering must surely cause one to doubt the existence of a benevolent God, thus begins the play within the play. J.B. and his wife Sarah lead a serene and comfortable life with their five children. As Zuss and Nickles begin their manipulations, J.B. loses his family, wealth, and health in rapid succession. Faced with the spiritual inquiry of why humans must suffer, will J.B.’s suffering cause a crisis of faith?

Artistic Significance:

Distinguished poet Archibald MacLeish’s play J.B. debuted on Broadway in 1958 and beat out A Raisin in the Sun, A Touch of the Poet, and Sweet Bird of Youth for the Pulitzer Prize. MacLeish (1892-1982) is best remembered for his poems “Conquistador,” “Ars Poetica,” and “Riders on the Earth.” Written in verse, the play is an affirmation of what MacLeish called “the fundamental human belief in life in spite of life. The Book of Job is a human triumph – Job’s willingness to pick up and go on. In that way, the myth of Job is a myth for our time because this is our answer also.” J.B. earned MacLeish his third Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award. Brooks Atkinson of the New York Times declared the play to be “one of the most memorable works of the century.” With today’s unrelenting torrent of terrible news, J.B. is a testament to the power of love and the undying persistence of the human spirit.


Jamar Adams (Charlotte, NC), Nico Ager (Palo Alto, CA), Julia Albain (Cincinnati, OH),  Jonathan Christopher (Winchester, MA), Lee Crisman (Kalamazoo, MI), Bridget Gabbe (New York, NY), Sara Greenfield (Plymouth, MI), Chad Henne Wyomissing, PA), Brian Holden (Traverse City, MI), Will Johnson (Oakland, MI), Katie Johnston (Rochester, MI), Nick Lang (Franklin, MI), Jake Long (Lapeer, MI), Lauren Lopez (Novi, MI), Louis Marino (Winstead, CT), Jessica Maynard (Altadena, CA), Claire Murphy (Brighton, MI), Emma Murphy (Brighton, MI), Quinn Murphy (Brighton, MI), Alex Polcyn (Highland, MI), J. Patrick Rourke (Algonac, MI), Kelli Rasmus (Houston, TX), Dylan Saunders (Mill Valley, CA), Kaylin Tavolacci (Pound Ridge, NY), Alana Zonan (Mt. Kisco, NY)



jb photo

Director Philip Kerr
Scenic Designer Vincent Mountain
Costume Designer Jessica Hahn
Lighting Designer Rob Murphy
Sound Designer Henry Reynolds
Stage Manager

Stephanie Shechter

Production Photos

Click here to view photos from J.B.


Click here to view the J.B. program


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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower