PART I: PRESS RELEASE - Short Version
500th Anniversary Luther Graphic Novel and Rock Opera Gather Steam
It is arguably one of the most pivotal events in the last 1000 years of human history - the event that ended the Medieval Era and ushered in the Modern Era.
It’s Teutonic and tectonic. It’s 13 years in the making. It will have historians, human rights experts and educators on five continents debating its significance next year.
It unveiled on the back cover of Publisher’s Weekly and on stage at Comic-Con in San Diego this summer. And beginning this month a hand-full of nationally award-winning authors, musicians, designers, and artists are launching a Marvel-style graphic novel, then tearing the story from pages and adapting it for theater stages in time for 900 million Protestants worldwide to celebrate their 500th Anniversary on October 31, 2017.
It’s Luther the Graphic Novel, and the new rock opera Luther the Rock Opera. (www.lutherstudy.com).
HISTORY AND HEADLINES
Like the current Broadway smash Hamilton, both the graphic novel and Luther the Musical deal with meticulously researched history AND issues at the forefront of headlines and people’s minds today:
· The powerful (church and state) abusing power
· Brave young people putting their lives on the line for freedom
· Rich people buying political office
· A looming Muslim advance across Turkey into Europe
“These issues are as relevant today as they were then,” says writer and executive producer Dr. Rich Melheim. “All of these events came together in one place and time 500 years ago. Some would say the Medieval Era ended and the Modern Era began when that one solitary monk put his life on the line and uttered his historic words: “Here I stand.”
The most popular Lutheran musicians since Bach and Beethoven are writing the music. Lost and Found, who put in 5,000,000 miles over the last 25 years singing in Lutheran circles, are pounding the graphic novel into verse in their “Speedwood” musical style with humor, energy and emotion.
TECTONIC AND TEUTONIC
The story stars Martin Luther, a bold, troubled, brilliant and complicated flawed hero. “Hollywood loves a flawed hero,” says Melheim, author of 6 stage plays, 25 books and producer of 24 music albums. “Our dear Dr. Luther is simultaneously brilliant, bold and flawed, flawed, flawed. But once you get to know his demons, his struggles, his story and its profound impact on human rights and history, you can’t help but marvel at the guy… if not love him.
“Oh. And unlike the Puritans and Calvinists his movement helped spawn, he really loved his beer.”
Melheim, who holds a BA in journalism, an MDIV in theology and a doctorate in semiotics and the future, believes the bulk of world’s historians don’t even understand the repercussions of Luther’s bold stance and the confluence of world-shaping events that it precipitated.
“Everything from the defeat of the Spanish Armada, to the Pilgrims voyage to Plymouth Rock, to the settling of Jamestown Colony, to the writing of the Bill of Rights, to the founding of a Puritan Seminary called Harvard in 1636, to the end of slavery in England, to Lincoln’s stubborn determination to win the Civil War and free the slaves - - heck, even Gandhi’s ability to sway the conscience of the British Parliament and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s movement - - all of these were seeded and preceded by an event that took place on October 31, 1517 when Luther ‘nailed it’ (Google 95 Theses),” says Melheim. “Without Luther’s death defying stand for an individual’s conscience, there would be no nation states in Europe as we know them today. No original 13 Colonies in North America. No British Empire. No Harvard. No Yale. No Princeton. No Louisiana Purchase. No Lewis and Clark. Maybe not even schools teaching slaves and girls to read. As an educational innovator, Dr. Luther supported schools where both boys and girls could learn to read the Bible. Centuries later on it was Lutherans and other early Protestants who broke the laws and taught slaves to read. Where do you think Martin Luther King, Sr. got his name? From Aristotle on it was assumed slaves and women had no souls, so teaching them to read was a waste of time.
“I once dated a girl without a soul,” says Melheim, who has done standup comedy on and off in 1000 churches over the last 30 years. “But that’s a matter for another day and another play.”
The graphic novel has sold German, French, Portuguese and Dutch rights thus far, with multiple other languages under negotiation. The rock opera will be released on Easter Sunday, 2017, giving churches, colleges and community theater troupes six months to prepare it for the October 31st 500th anniversary of Luther “nailing it.”
For more information, interviews or samples, visit www.lutherstudy.com.
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