“The Story of Naomi—The Book of Ruth,” coauthored by William J. Doan, professor of theatre at Penn State, and Terry Giles, professor of theology at Gannon University, has been published by Wipf and Stock Publishers. They previously coauthored “Prophets, Performance, and Power” (2005) and “Twice Used Songs” (2009).
The book of Ruth is probably best known as a romantic love story that, through the expression of loving devotion, overcomes tragedy and ends with the founding of the most famous family in all of biblical Israel. But the book wasn't always this way. In fact, it wasn't a book at all but rather a story told with a very different purpose in mind. Before Ruth, there was the Story of Naomi, a subversive story designed to challenge a male-dominated status quo. Through comedy, sarcastic irony, and unparalleled rhetorical skill, the Naomi storyteller holds up for inspection social gender roles and the power of sexuality in a manner that resonates yet today. “The Story of Naomi—The Book of Ruth” goes behind the literary rendition of the story and recaptures the original oral tale, with script and performance directions that bring to life the humor, tragedy, and transparent honesty shared between the Naomi storyteller and her audience.
Doan is a playwright, solo performer, and illustrator, and is currently working on a graphic novel.