Last Thursday night I met the director for the first time, discovered who I was playing in the first 25% of the gospel, and rehearsed hard, knackering my ankle in the process.
Last Friday night those of us who were not Jesus, Peter, Andrew, James, John or Pharisee discovered who we were playing in the next 25% of the gospel. Another solid 3 hours of rehearsing…
Last Saturday morning we got our parts for the second half of the drama and worked for another 3 hours. Last Saturday afternoon we ran the whole thing, which encouraged us in the face of slight ropeiness earlier in the day.
Last Saturday evening the massed ranks arrived for the first performance. 90 minutes later it was all over, bar the tea, coffee, biscuits and mingling. Second show on Sunday night after church. Perhaps 500 people in total came to see it.
Theatre in the round was fairly new to me, especially with such a small ‘stage’ in the middle – only big enough for 15 people to stand crammed next to each other in a huddle. Semi-improvisation is quite a scary way to go for te untrained, but that worked well. We got enough direction from Andrew Page and assistant Chris White where it was needed, and enough room to manouevre where appropriate.
The drama itself, based on the greatest story ever told, was very powerful. There was a lot of enthusiasm from the cast, and the rawness of amateurs on minimum rehearsal was usually a virtue. Some of the scenes were uproariously funny, and some were pin-droppingly tense. God was very good to us and helped almost everyone remember almost all of their lines. [On Sunday there was the added drama of a faint elderly gentleman who needed to be carried out after an hour. He was heavy! Although the tension was somewhat broken, we resumed after 10 minutes without a hitch.]
Audience feedback from Christians and non-Christians was overwhelmingly positive. Praise the Lord, this drama seems to have opened eyes to aspects of the truth that conversation and reading have not yet revealed to various friends and family members of the cast.
Last but not least, the experience of intense team work in drama was wonderful (or should that be wonderful, darling…?) This was something I missed out on as an undergraduate, despite having quite a few thesp friends so am grateful to have tasted it in near middle age. The post-play mood droop was significant, but survivable. I really hope this becomes an annual event and even more churches get involved. This kind of creative inter-church collaboration is just what we need to adorn the gospel of Christ