We're getting media attention.
Our little town is getting noticed and it's in a big, campy way. The independent film, The Gospel of Eureka made its debut at SXSW 2018 and it's making waves at the many different film festivals around the country.
Set right here in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, this film, by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher, cuts between the performers of the drag cabaret at Eureka Live Underground and the performers of The Great Passion Play which is regularly performed from May through October, by a cast of 170 actors and dozens of live animals.
Two very different experiences juxtaposed in a film by, what I've been told, is the most brilliant use of camp, which we all know, often makes something old new again.
The Great Passion Play
Since its first performance in 1968, The Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs has been seen by over 7.7 million people, which makes it the largest-attended outdoor drama in America, according to the Institute of Outdoor Theatre of the University of East Carolina at Greenville, North Carolina.
Also on the grounds of The Great Passion Play was the Christ of the Ozarks statue (the largest Christ statue in the North America), the New Holy Land Tour, a full-scale re-creation of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, a section of the Berlin Wall and a Bible Museum with over 6,000 Bibles (including an original 1611 King James Bible, a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, and the only Bible signed by all of the original founders of the Gideons).
From time to time popular artists visit The Great Passion Play to perform in the 4,000-seat amphitheater where the play is performed in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Eureka Live Underground
Eureka Live Underground is altogether different. With the motto, "what happens underground, stays underground" one can only imagine.
Every experience at Eureka Live Underground, located on Main Street, is a part of history in the making and according to local history, two major streets in downtown Eureka Springs underwent considerable re-engineering in the year 1890. Main Street was the first official "street" in town, built in a low level gulch, alongside a small spring-fed creek. It suffered from frequent runoff problems and quickly earned the nickname "Mud" Street, hence the need for improvements. The second street in town requiring attention was Spring Street, as it was also becoming a main thoroughfare for carriage traffic. Today, it serves as the primary route for much of Eureka's Historic Loop.
These significant road improvements reportedly raised the overall level of the two streets and required that a number of businesses along Spring Street and Main Street, including Eureka Live Underground, to create new entrances on the second floor, thereby making basements out of the once street-level facades.
While I haven't (yet!) seen The Gospel of Eureka, what I know about The Great Passion Play and Eureka Live Underground, my interest to see it has certainly piqued. When love, faith, and civil rights collide here in the south with evangelical Christians and drag queens, it becomes drama on an entirely different level.
In this documentary, it is my understanding that Palmieri and Mosher revere the Star of Bethlehem and The Disco Ball as signs of the divine restoring camp to its inherently political, thoroughly radical, unequivocally homosexual provenance.
I cannot wait to see The Gospel of Eureka!
Sneak Peek: Trailer