Playing the Rapture (2008)

"Playing the Rapture" is an original hour-long performance work that examines American evangelical belief in the Rapture—a moment when every true Christian will suddenly vanish from the earth, leaving the rest of humankind to struggle through a period of extreme tribulation. It explores the social implications of both "end times" theology and the scientific pursuit of escape from a dying planet through the lens of two gamers beta-testing an end-times computer game.

Full Description

"Playing the Rapture" revolves around two characters who are working on a computer game set in a post-Rapture world. Designed by one of them, the game posits a choice for those who have been left on earth between conversion to Christianity and joining the Antichrist. As the two gamers beta-test this new creation, they engage in an intense struggle over everything from the rules of the game to the problem of belief. At the crisis of their contest, an intervention by the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein changes the dynamics of the piece.

I designed the environment for this piece to be almost entirely virtual—primarily large-scale projections of the game world the two gamers are testing. The wall and floor projection areas created two intersecting trapezoids that constituted the play space of both the game and the performance. Most of the two dozen performance projections, which were controlled through a pair of Max/MSP/Jitter patchers, were machinima videos that I created using an actual computer game set in a post-Rapture world. Entitled "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" and based on a series of best-selling novels of the same title, this game has a history of controversy around its version of Christian eschatology. It is also one of the dreariest computer games I have ever played. In the course of researching and playing this game in order to create the machinima videos, I integrated aspects of its release history and its failure as a viable game into the performance script.

The show premiered at the Baltimore Theatre Project in 2008. In 2009, I created two video installations based on this project for exhibitions at the California Museum of Photography and the gallery@CalIT2 at UC San Diego.

Work metadata

  • Year Created: 2008
  • Submitted to ArtBase: Wednesday May 15th, 2013
  • Original Url:
  • Work Credits:
    • antoinettelafarge, co-creator, text, programming
    • Robert Allen, co-creator, director
    • John Mellies, actor, additional text
    • Jay Wallace, actor
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