Hand to God, not Grandma


In all the stress of preparing for final exams, a student-managed theater organization hopes to alleviate late nights of studying with a play that is sure to wake up sleep-deprived students.

The University of Georgia Thalian Blackfriars premiered a special play titled  “Hand to God,” in the Cellar Theatre. Though the title suggests religious elements, this play is probably not a production for by-the-book christian grandmothers, as you can see here:


Actor David Forsee plays Jason/ Tyrone in “Hand to God.” | Photo by Nicholas Cordts

“Hand to God is very pointed at hypocrisy in religion, but it’s also very understanding of people who are trying to find something to comfort them and get them through the day,” said actor David Forsee.

As the semester winds down, students are looking for a laugh to get them through the day. The cast and crew plan to accomplish this by bringing the very explicit script to life on stage.

“The audience has probably never seen demonic puppets making people dance or ears getting bitten off,” said Forsee.

Interested theater-goers may wonder who would come up with such a wild idea for a play. As The Wall Street Journal points out, the playwright, Robert Askins, is a bearded bartender. At first glance, Askins wouldn’t appear to be a renowned writer, just as his play can’t be judged by its title.

Director Hayley Barron | Photo by Nicholas Cordts

Even in a play with blood and bad-mouthing, director Hayley Barron’s message behind “Hand to God,” might surprise skeptics.

“I’m trying to push that, inherently, all humans are equal. You have to walk in love no matter what, and make your own destiny by not relying on any religion or society standard.”

Barron admits that a play featuring puppets was not her first choice to produce. Though, it was the bold script that made her laugh and change her mind.

“I hate puppets and there are a lot of shows that I like better. But then I read the script and I was like ‘Oh my God,’ and I just fell in love and thought it would be hilarious,” said Barron.

Andy Han plays Pastor Greg in “Hand to God.” | Photo by Nicholas Cordts

Hilarity is the driving force behind Hand to God. The fact that it features explicit humor that can’t be mentioned on television is exactly why the Thalian Blackfriars decided to produce it.

Nothing is as it appears to be in Robert Askins’ play. Even a seemingly one-dimensional character like Pastor Greg turns out to have a not-so-innocent underlying agenda. “Hand to God” is written by Robert Askins, whose play has recently premiered on Broadway.

“Pastor Greg gets bold, let’s just say that. He’s tired of being cooped up in his lonely little corner, and he’s ready to unleash himself into the world.”

Underneath the raunchy jokes, there is a deep theme. Grandma might not want to see “Hand to God,” but that’s okay. Plays are meant to entertain, and this play is no stranger to making a packed-out audience roar with laughter.



By Nicholas Cordts


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