|From the Editor -
You canít tell me that God didnít pull out the special effects machine when He decided to flood the earth, or when He wanted to flex His muscles to Egypt with a display of plagues, or a parting of the sea, or a nighttime pillar of fire, or even to demonstrate His wrath upon the Twin Cities of Sin with fire and brimstone from the heavens, or again, fire from heaven to devour Elijahís sacrifice before the Baal priests. We serve a Dramatic God!
Drama in the Church: Point #1, Point #2
By David Ian
At some of the Christian Drama Conferences that I have attended or co-sponsored, often comes the comment, "I have a problem with people who think that drama doesnít belong in a Sunday morning service. Or at church at all. What do I tell them?"
So oft have I come across this question that I have developed what I call "Point #1". In future columns I may make reference to "Point #1", so youíll be first to read it, here.
What is "Point #1"? Well, itís very easy to remember, and usually when I describe "Point #1" to those people who are dealing with drama nay-sayers, a rather conspiratorial smile begins to creep upon their expression. Itís a very simple principle, easy to remember and very hard to refute Ė and kind of fun to think about at the same time.
Okay, hereís Point #1.
Here it comes Ö
Point #1: We serve a dramatic
The Bible is simply stuffed to the brim with ways where God has dealt with His people dramatically. You canít swing a cat, Biblically, as it were, without whacking into some kind of dramatic way that God has interacted with his people. In some ways, the Bible is simply a journal of all the different situations where God has dealt with a person or a group of people, or how people have responded to Him, and the overwhelming means is through the dramatic and theatrical. We serve a Dramatic God!
A Matter of Praise
Glenn A. Hascall
Introduction from the Editor Ö
Glenn A. Hascall has given us this lovely blending of Psalms and some New Testament verses for this Readerís Theatre script centered on praise, just in time for Thanksgiving. For general readerís theatre, the actors are dressed in neutral black costumes, have the script in front of them (usually in a black notebook) and read their parts from locations on the stage. There is no blocking and they do not interact with each other but address the audience with their lines.
Youíll note, however, in this script there is a slight bit of choreography where actors move on lines and form different configurations, and at one point the readers do address each other instead of the audience. This reinforces some thematic concerns of the script, but largely keeps the atmosphere and feeling created by the Readerís Theatre style.
A Reader's Theater script dealing with the subject of praise, seeking to define it and make it's practice more understandable. May find uses in both a praise service or as a special Thanksgiving reading.
CAST: Three readers (not gender specific)
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And what about the amazing personal drama Abraham was led through with his only son, Isaac, or the eternal suffering and steadfastness of Job in the face of all tragedy, or the epic life sojourns of Joseph, or Daniel to force nations who served other gods to recognize Godís supremacy. This is a God that understands and uses all the elements of theatre Ė not only spectacle, but deep drama, tragedy and comedy as well. And if you want to get into cutting edge and surreal, donít get me started on Ezekiel and his wheels or Daniel and his visions. We serve a Dramatic God!
Then for the avante garde production of all ages, Johnís Revelation has inspired more people over the generations than anything the stage gurus have ever conjured.
Point #1 says we serve a dramatic God. It follows, then, that Point #2 would be that our most correct response to this God is in the dramatic as well. We worship our God dramatically!
Sunday mornings are stuffed full of dramatic elements, if you are watching for them. Prelude music, not unlike an overture, is played before the service starts. Some clergy or choir wear costumes, and standing and sitting is choreographed, as are the ushers as they come forward for the offering. We worship our God dramatically!
The congregation might do choral scripting, speaking in unison, or singing together Ė this is all theatrical, and if that pulpit thingy that is used for the sermon isnít set piece, then Iíve never seen one. And lighting? Sound? It all screams theatre. We worship our God dramatically!
The fact of it is our Sunday morning services are so stuffed full of the dramatic trappings that you couldnít swing that Biblical cat around without whacking into something theatrical as well.
Itís the only way that we, as finite mortal beings, can attempt to approach the throne of an Omnipotent and Omniscient God with some sense of perspective Ė to make things larger than our mundane lives, to make things special besides the ordinary, and isnít that exactly what theatre does?
So, to people who have questions about whether theatre belongs in a church service or not, I just mention Principle #1, Principle #2, and then give them the Biblical cat and say, "go ahead, give it a swing, see what you find!"
We serve a Dramatic God! We worship our God dramatically!
David Ian is the Founder and Artistic Director of "Unchained Productions", a Christian theatrical production and resource organization. He is an award-winning playwright and performer, and despite having no kids of his own, he is touring a one-man comedy show entitled "The Replacement Disciple". His website can be found at www.UnchainedProductions.com.
"Think These Things" Photo by Glenn Hascall