Monday, March 31, 2014

A Tale of Two Plays

The first school is a private Christian school with a great drama program, known for its quality productions. It has a theater (a small black box theater, but still, its own space) with the resources to build extensive sets, buy nice costumes, and pay the royalties for well-known plays. It even has students receiving scholarships for their participation in the drama program. Play production is a class, built into the daily school schedule.

In the course of their preparation for the spring play, things aren't going as well as usual. The tech crew runs into some difficulty in its efforts to achieve the director's grand vision for the show. A key actor (one of those receiving one of the earlier-mentioned scholarships) is expelled and has to be replaced. The other actors are not completely on their game: lines aren't memorized when expected and so forth.
So, an email goes out to the parents of the play production class, regretting to inform them that the spring play has been cancelled two weeks prior to show day. The school's calendar had no room for pushing the date of the production back, and the director and administration felt that the performance would not be of a quality that would glorify God.
(. . . although, in all honesty, this parent wondered whose glory was really at stake here . . . )
The second school is also a private Christian school, but one just beginning its venture into the theatrical world. It is excited to offer its first ever drama production class (an after-school elective) with nine students and a novice director. They choose a play written by a school parent (royalty-free) and begin faithfully rehearsing once a week.
They have no budget. Zero dollars. All costumes, sets, and props are provided by parents of the students and volunteers at the school. The performance space is a youth worship area rented from the church that the school rents its weekly classroom space from, and they only have access to rehearse in the space in the last two weeks of rehearsal.
Two-thirds of the actors have never performed on stage before. The director has extensive performing experience but has never directed a play before. When they hit two weeks before production time, there are crucial costumes and props still lacking. The first run-through of the play in the actual performance space that week throws the newbie actors for a complete loop -- they forget lines, blocking, everything.
But they push through. They focus on what needs to be done and get it done. By performance night, they pull off an inaugural production for the school's theatrical department that surprises everyone attending with its fun and its message. And God was glorified . . . despite, and maybe even because of, all the imperfections.

Proud to have been a part of play number two. Just sayin'. Well done, Summit Christian Academy.

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