Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Publication Date

Spring 3-2023


Music and Performing Arts, College of


Theatre and Dance, Department of

BURS Faculty Advisor

Dr. James Al-Shamma

Presentation Type



Many people would agree that crucifixion would be a horrible thing to watch and would be an even worse thing to experience. Despite this, it appears repeatedly in theatre and movies, sometimes in graphic detail. I will examine how crucifixion (specifically that of Jesus Christ) has been portrayed in theatre and film since the Middle Ages. This topic can help to illuminate the tolerance to violence on stage for some given time periods; or serve to show religious exceptions to that tolerance. Early English Passion plays included most, if not all, of Christ’s crucifixion. Throughout the years, though, more detailed crucifixions would illicit backlash from Protestant crowds, almost without exception. During any time period, a more detailed crucifixion typically resulted in greater controversy.