Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sun, Moon, and Stars of Drama Ministry.

The goal of Drama Ministry is to not only present the life changing message of the Gospel, but also to train men and woman for a lifetime of service and ministry to God and give them the necessary tools to do so. The perspective of Drama Ministry should always be on God and the message to be conveyed. Many well meaning actors and drama leaders can come to the conclusion that it's all about putting on a great show and the performance. While this is a crucial part of any Drama Ministry, it is never to be the central focus of the ministry. Since our work is for the LORD, we need present it as an offering to Him.

Sometimes, when actors appear in countless sketches and drama productions, there is the danger of having it go to there head. They receive compliments and praise for each performance, all telling them how talented they are. If this praise is not reflected to the one who gave the talent, the actor can find themselves on a very slippery slope. The emphasis of their acting changes from an expression of love for God and desire to reach people with the message of Jesus Christ, to a strictly performance oriented job that has little room for mistakes and is constantly in need of affirmation and praise. If these needs are not met, the actor can become depressed, disillusioned and even develop a distaste for their talent. This is why it is essential for any Drama Ministry to have a firm grasp on the idea that it is a ministry above all else.

The job of Drama Ministry is not to create stars. Instead, Drama Ministry should help to develop moons. While a star radiates its own light and is at the center of attention, a moon is a reflective surface and radiates light from another source. This is how each of us should respond to the particular ministry God has given us. In a song by the Paul Colman Trio there is a line that says, "I want to be the moon, cause it reflects the Son. Don't want to be the Star that shines on everyone." We need to be two-way mirrors for God's love. We need to reflect his love out to the world, and then reflect any praise we might receive on this earth back to Him.

We as humans are not designed to handle praise. We can become addicted to it and need it in order to feel self worth. This is not the way God intended us to be. He wants us to give Him all the praise we receive, after all, who is more worthy of praise then God?

We need to be able to put these things into perspective. God is the sun/Son. He radiates the Light/message of love and salvation. We are moons who reflect the Light to a dark world. Drama Ministry can be a complicated place sometimes. Since the messenger is on the stage and the center of attention, it can become easy to start believing one's own press. We can gain the mentality that if the performance was good, then we are good; but if the performance did not go the way we intended, then we must not measure up and are of lesser worth. This is extremely unhealthy and is not of God. We know from the Bible that we are priceless workmanships of a loving father and nothing can depreciate our value. It must be understood that even though we are in the lime light, it is souly for the purpose of giving God glory and preaching His message. Humility in acting is essential. In Drama Ministry, each participant needs to have a firm handle on this.

This is not to say that one should not find satisfaction in their work for God. Nothing is more satisfying than knowing that one is using their talents and gifts for the LORD and His purposes. The job of Drama Ministry is to equip people who share this passion for acting and ministry. More than producing a show, Drama Ministry should give others the tools to go out and start ministries of their own. If an actor in a drama team likes acting, it is the responsibility of the leaders to encourage them in their pursuit to explore their ambitions in acting by giving them opportunities to act in the drama team and also inform them of upcoming opportunities in local theater productions.

Just as Jesus invested into his disciples, we should invest in others.

Sunday, March 21, 2010



Think Creative Ministrys does not hold formalized auditions. Instead we use a selection prosecc called Casting Calls. The differences between an audition and a casting call can be confusing. In an audition, the actor prepares a piece of work (usually a one-minute monologue and possibly anywhere between 16-32 measures of a song from a musical). The director then makes his or her final decision about who is in and who is out. If a decision is especially difficult, sometime a director will have callbacks. In the stage on the auditioning process, the actors in question are seen a second time in order to help decide which one best fits the particular role.
A casting call, on the other hand, is a time where new talent is brought in to see what part would best suit their current acting ability. They may bring something if they would like, or simply spend some time with the director. He or she may simply talk about past acting experiences, or have the actor play a few parts in some acting exercises. This is all to determine what sort of part is to be given, not if a part is to be given at all. No one is left out.
We believe that if someone had a desire to be a part of drama ministry, the opportunity should be extended to them. They will know very quickly if the world of acting, memorizing, and rehearsals is something they are willing to be committed to.
Since Think Creative Ministries is a Christian repertoire-acting troop, we want to model scriptural principles at all times. In probably the most famous verse in the Bible
(John 3:16) Jesus says, “…that whosoever believeth in Me shall not parish, but have everlasting life.” This word “whosoever” implies that no one is left out. All are welcome into the kingdom of God. We at Think Creative Ministries want to have an atmosphere that encourages everyone to explore their God given talents. The kingdom of God is not an exclusive club. This is our reasoning for not conducting formalized auditions. This does not mean we are unconcerned with putting on the highest quality shows possible. In fact, this means quite the opposite. Colossians 3:23,24 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” We want to put on high quality shows as an offering to the Lord, as well as making the audience has a pleasurable time.
Actors will be cast according to their current level of ability. In Jesus’ parable about the talents he says that the men were given the talents “according to their ability.” This does not mean however, that if you or someone you know has a smaller part in a sketch or show, they are incapable of playing a larger role. Sometimes this happens simply due to who decides to be a part of the sketch, in which case all the roles must be filled.
As Christians, our aim is to serve God and give Him glory, not gain praise for our selves. Mark 9:35, says, “…If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all." We are trying to make servants of God, not stars. This goes along with the classic Shakespeare quote, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” Each of us has a role to play in the kingdom of God. Let us serve Him together.

Don't just recite it, Deliver it.

One of the biggest things in acting is line delivery. As the old saying goes, "It's not what you say, it's how you say it." This is especially true with acting and Drama Ministry. As actors, we want to present our material as authentically and as realistically as possible. The idea in doing this is to not just simply memorize our lines and recite them on stage. We should read the line. Then, we need to think about what the line means, what is the character really saying? What are they trying to convey by saying this line? What motives, beliefs, and feelings are being expressed in this line? We need to ask our selves how we would respond if these things are really happening to us. How would I feel? How Would I respond? What type of vocal tone would I be using if this were really happening to me?
Then, we need to try out the line. Does it sound good? Am I conveying what I want? We should try out many different ways of saying the line before settling on any specific way of saying it. We need to think about where the emphasis of the words is going. What is the most important words of the sentence? Play with different types of emphasis; see how the line changes in connotation by changing the emphasis. The thing to watch for in this exercise is not making the line singsongy. The line should sound as though it is the natural response from what has just been said. This is why memorizing not only your lines, but also the line surrounding your line is a good thing. This way, you can get the feeling your line is to have. If this character just said that, then I will respond like this. This creates an amount of flow with the characters. The late and great Russian actor and teacher Stanislavski had this to say on the subject, "The proper inward feeling creates the proper outward action."
The lines should flow from us, not bounce off us. It's almost like playing a game of catch. You don't want the ball to bounce off of you. You want to catch the ball and then throw it. The same is true with acting. You want to take your lines, understand them, feel them, and then send them out into the air. Throw them out into the audience. The lines should come from you, the actor, not the script. The script is just paper and has no life of its own. It is the job of the actor to put on the meat, bones and flesh of a character and the things he or she says.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ways to Present the Gospel in Drama Ministry

The goal of Drama Ministry is to effectively present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a creative and innovative way. This can take on many different forms. The first form I would like to discuss is that of the "Sit-Com Sketch."

In this genre, a short play is constructed and conveys a scene with a scriptural theme or lesson. Fictitious characters are created and acted out in the scene and illustrate the moral or scriptural principle. The comedy of the scene should originate with the character's personality, inability to grasp the point, physical humor. Sometimes the comedy is the result of parody or cultural references, puns, and jokes. The key in all of this is that the comedy is the result of the situational circumstances of the characters and their surroundings. The comedy should never come from the moral or scriptural message to be conveyed. This being said, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or anything relating to Jesus such as the his earthly life and ministry are never to be the source of comedy.
These Sit-Com sketches should be anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes in length and contain a distinct beginning, middle, and end. Many would argue that sketch comedy does not need to have a final resolution and should leave the audience thinking. While I agree that Christian Drama should be thought provoking, I do not feel that lacking a strong conclusion is the most effective way to accomplish this goal. What should compel the audience, is the power of the message. The idea behind using the Sit-Com Sketch is to be able to see, in living color, how people respond to a living God and his word.

Another effective way to present the Gospel in Drama Ministry is to let the Bible itself be the source material for the sketch. This is more than simply telling a Bible story. When presenting Biblical material, the goal is to make the Bible come to life for the audience so that they can see for themselves what it must have been like. This does not mean that all Biblical presentations should be serious in genre. There is much room for comedy in Biblical presentations. In general, there are three min ways to present Biblical material in Drama Ministry. The first is "Dramatic Bible Presentation." In this genre, a bible story is selected and played out in a serious, non-comedic way. The idea is to present the story as it might have really happened. Writing these types of sketches are relatively not difficult. One must familiarize one's self with the story and write lines that seem to flow conversationally with the story. Sometimes scripture itself can even become lines in the sketch. The outline of the sketch already exists and all that is needed at this point is a little meat on the skeleton and some color for the story.

The second form of Biblical presentation is called "Biblical Parody." This does not mean that the biblical account in question is to be made fun of, but that the story is to be told through a comedic lens. The Bible is full of funny stories and funny people. As we read the scriptures we can see just how funny it can get. With a little imagination, classic Bible stories can be told in a way that will leave your audience rolling on the floor with laughter. Remember as I stated earlier, Jesus is never to be the source of comedy. This must be a foundational principle in all Drama Ministry. If God's Holiness and our reverence to Him is not upheld as a standard, the Drama Ministry will be no different than the many television shows and stand-up comedians who make fun of God and make light of His holiness. The purpose of Drama Ministry is to, above all else, bring glory to our Father in Heaven. Characters from the Old Testament are great sources of comedy for Biblical Parody. This portion of the Bible allows us to see how real people responded to a real God and what happened as a result of their faithfulness or disobedience. New Testament characters are also subject to this sort of comedic representation as long as it is not reflecting the attitudes of Jesus. For example, a sketch on Paul preaching on Mars Hill might be a good subject for Biblical Parody. The focus might be on how the people there serve other gods and even have one engraved to the "Unknown god." The conversation between Paul and these people could result in some very funny material. On the other hand, A sketch on the stoning of Stephen might not be a good choice for Biblical parody. Even Saul's conversion experience might be an effective comedic story as long as the comedy comes from Saul. It might even be effective to have the lines of Jesus come directly from the Bible.

The last type of Biblical presentation is called "Biblical Fiction." In this genre, a Biblical story is selected but the focus of the sketch is not on the classic characters. For instance, a sketch about the animals on the Ark would be included in this genre. Another example might be a sketch on the soldiers from the Philistines side as they watch David and Goliath face off, or the Romans who guard Jesus' tomb. The idea behind this genre is to give the audience a different perspective on a well known story. Sometimes we as Christians can become so accustomed to a particular story, that we become numb to its powerful message. The thing to remember in this type of sketch is to keep to the source material as much as possible.

These are the three basic ways in which Drama Teams go about presenting Bible stories. The job of Drama Ministries is to present the Truth of God's word in a way that will not only entertain audiences, but also deliver the life changing message that will stick with them.