… thoughts on theatre, life, and stuff

Archive for the ‘Christian Musings’ Category

The revenge of V’einstein [a.k.a. “Ya! Helga!”]

Oops. <snicker>

I play a Comic Host in Rush Hour, the RMCC family worship experience, but I also work for the Creative Arts Director doing various RH tasks like editing scripts, making props and costumes as needed, stuff like that.

Soooo, I recently revamped a script for Rush Hour and well… first maybe I should explain the way I write…  I let my mind imagine a scene playing out.  I WATCH the scene in my head and just write down what I see and hear.

When I recently edited in an Einstein-type character, the voice I imagined in my head had an exaggerated German accent. Here’s what the actor actually needed to say…

COMIC HOST:  We ask that the Bible Bowlers* let everyone else catch up. Don’t blurt out answers to the questions OK?  That wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the people who are not yet Bible experts.

THIS, however, is the way I transcribed the scene in the script:

COMIC HOST: (German accent) Unt NOW! Vee gunna ask dat ze Bible Bowlahs let ze rrrest of de beoples catchen-zee up vis you, unt you don’t anzer ze qvetions too early. Dat vill not be fay-ah for ze rrrrest of ze beoples who are not expertz YET in ze Bibluuuuhl, Yah!

NOTE TO SELF:  If you don’t want the OTHER Comic Host at our sister campus (who uses this same script) to push you in the dirt… next time, just use plain English… he can add the accent.

 errr, I mean, I’m sorry Brian. That must have been nearly impossible to read. Seriously, Dude.   Please forgive me.    hugs, V-

PS.  Dear Co-Host Dawn, I’m sorry that onstage I kept calling you “Helga” all morning.  OK.   No.  I’m not.  not.  really.  sorry.  Because it was funny and it’s even funnier knowing your enitre family will be calling you Helga for weeks and weeks now and in fact you may never live this one down and every time I think about it I start laughing again and… …I’m not worried about you pushing me in the dirt because I’m not sure you could catch me and there I’ve said it out loud now well sort of because I’m not really talking I’m typing but just the same whatever and I’m pretty sure there’s nothing you can do about it now anyway because it’s water under the bridge and you have to be nice to me because we’re Christians and I’m pretty sure God will strike you with lightening if you seek revenge and that’s pretty much all I have to say about that. Mwahahahahaha!!! er… I mean… hugs,  v-

*We have a youth team that competes nationally with their Bible skills and knowledge.  These guys are nationally ranked and have some SERIOUS skills when it comes to the Bible.  Check ’em out here.

Praise Team Workshop 9/19/10

What a DAY! 

OK, true confessions,  I was not aware that I had an acting “comfort zone”  but apparently I do.  This morning as a co-host (Comic Host) in RH, I had to use really harsh, insulting words to fellow cast members, tech crew, audience, you name ’em, I was rude to ’em… all for the purpose of teaching the virtue of responsibility… specifically, we need to be responsible for our WORDS.  I got myself wrapped around the axle over this to the point of tears, so worried that our audience wouldn’t understand I was playing a part…  and wondering if they would ever trust (and like) me again. 

But our audience was great… I think I have been forgiven, right?  You forgive me? 

Well, anyway… it really showed me in a FRESH NEW WAY that we will always be challenged in the Rush Hour program, God will NEVER let us become bored or stale if we hold His hand and face the hard stuff.  If God is with us, who can stand against us?  Thanks Phil for your prayers.  And thank you, RH families for letting us take you out of your comfort zones today. 

OK, so now that my nerves were completely raw, I was spiritually and emotionally drained and vulnerable, today was the day that Phil (our fearless Creative Arts director) had asked me to help him deliver a workshop for our main stage vocalists.  In order to hold a workshop, there is a certain amount of trust involved…  will they listen, will I accidentally say something hurtful, will they give us permission to help?  Will we bore the veterans to death? Will we intimidate the newbies?  Arrrrghhhhh! 

It also gave me a fresh appreciation for what our main stage vocalists might be going through today.  When you ask someone to step out of their comfort zone, it’s hard!!!  It’s hard!!!! Especially when they are people you love and respect in a myriad of ways, and you are tasked with helping them find a way to fine-tune something as personal as a performance style…   Sheesh!  Who am I, Lord?  I’m a mess and my mamma dresses me funny, how am I supposed to share what I know with people who are captains of industry, professional speakers, and folks from all walks of life… including an exhausted praise crew who just left it all on the field this morning when they led worship.!?

So Phil and I have spent weeks praying and meeting over the content, even though we give 1-2 of these workshops a year for the RH staff… this felt different.  Who are WE to be telling main stage singers stuff… we’re from the KIDS program for crying out loud! 

God is good.  I’m so exhausted and so high on the glory of God right now I am overwhelmed.  The Praise Team opened themselves up to us so we could teach and guide and reflect and encourage, and I re-connected with a very dear friend, and God gave me the conviction and the courage to put words to a long overdue apology I needed to make, and WHOA NELLIE!  Did I mention God is good? 

Thank you to all the veterans and the new recruits who attended today.  I wish I had pics! 

I considered posting our presentation notes, but you know what?  I think I won’t do that.  A workshop like that is not something you can set in cement, is it?  It’s a class where the coaches learn as much as the other participants, so maybe it’s best to leave it at that.   

I was blessed today.  Thank you, God.  Thanks Praise Team. Thanks Phil. 

hugs, V-

Litle Girl Dresses for Ethiopia (Pillowcase Dresses)

Hi!  

My Rush Hour friend Heather, who plays Cammie at our Fredrick Campus, suggested a dress-making project to support orphans in an Ethiopian community. Check out this link to understand the scope of what the Howletts are trying to achieve.   http://thehowletts5.blogspot.com/   

Here’s a link to the pattern I chose to use…    http://sewingmamas.com/b/downloads.php?do=file&id=17  I made 6 dresses like this.   

 I was a little concerned about how the dresses would be laundered, and how the ribbon might hold up. I decided to try THIS pattern next… http://freshlypicked.blogspot.com/2008/03/pillow-case-dress-tutorial.html  because the ties are sewn in as elongated casings on the sleeves.   

Fabric and ribbon!

 

Aleah (my daughter) and I went shopping for pillowcases which we first washed, dried, and ironed.  

We washed, dried and ironed the cases first.

 

We wanted to launder the fabric before beginning so we could pre-shrink and check them out to see if the would hold up long-term.  We didn’t want to send dresses that would disappoint little girls by raveling or shrinking the first time they were washed.   

After learning they have an outdoor latrine, we weren’t sure about their access to laundry facilities and an iron for pressing clothing, so we tried our best to think about those things while choosing our materials.  

cut!

 

... sew ...

 

Thread some ribbon...

 

... and VOILA!

 

These were constructed using the method found at the first link we listed above.  After making several of these using the simple design, I was ready to move on to the more challenging pattern, which I thought would  be longer-lasting and a little more rugged.  I used the pattern found at the second link above, and the dresses turned out to be SOOOO cute!  

We added some ribbon trim to the dresses made with solid fabric, just to give them a little extra cuteness.  🙂   

Thanks again to my friend Heather for the suggestion!  And thanks to the Howlett family for all you do!  

Hugs, V-

God’s Word For Actors

Devo time? Now?

 

True confession time:  I’m the MOST undisciplined person when it comes to a daily devo… just never have been able to do it.   

But recently, I found a website that helps me read one tiny little chapter of the New Testament every weekday (I even get weekends off)  that way I can read and think about the NT in one year.   Any-hoo… I came across this today and it TOTALLY spoke to me as sort of a Christian Actor’s Creed… It is from Paul’s first letters to the Corinthians where he is explaining how he adapts to various cultures and life-styles to reach people for Christ.   

 1 Corinthians 9: 19-23  

19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.  

Of course Paul is talking about not letting our cultural comfort zones interfere with reaching out to people who are different from us.  I, however, read this and immediately related to Paul as an actor!  I was thinking, HEY!  THAT’S ME TOO!  I play different parts and characters to tell stories that uplift, challenge, entertain, and enlighten people!  And I do it to serve God.  As he describes in the verse, Paul is sincerely assuming these traits for the benefit of others, not because these actions represent who he is as a man.  Sounds like a method actor to me!  

Does telling people you are a Christian actor make you feel like this?

 

Now you might be wondering why I would want to find some Biblical support for we poor actors.  (errr…. or is it “us poor actors”?  where is my Mom the English teacher when I need her!?)  Maybe it’s just me, but have you ever noticed that when you are around some Christian performers, you can sense they have some hesitance (shame? embarrassment?) about being in the performing arts?  I’ve noticed it on occasion and here are some thoughts on that…  

Theory #1.   For some people, it’s almost like the dark ages when actors/dancers were considered to be low-life criminals, con-artists, pick-pockets, and prostitutes.  Celebrity scandals reported every day in the tabloids do not uplift the image of the modern actor!   Could it be that the link between immoral professions and the profession of acting is still hanging around in some people’s minds?  

Theory #2.  Ever come across this one? “Actors all have that “I gotta be me!” thing, and do not care at all about societal norms for behavior.”  (Christ never defined godly behavior using “societal norms” as a yardstick, so I’m not EVEN going there!) BUT! I do find it to be true that to be a good actor, you MUST be able to feel what your character feels.  Therefore, if we hope to be good actors, unLIMITed actors, unrestricted actors, we must have an open mind.   

That makes us very empathetic doesn’t it?   Highly accepting, understanding, willing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes… and perhaps more in tune with the idea of  “there but for the grace of God, go I.”   If you walk around this life with tons of bias against types of people, you will not be able to accurately portray those people without incorporating that bias into your performance … the audience will see right thru you.  Also, if you search your soul as an actor (or a Christian!) and find within yourself the ability to identify with EVERY every aspect of humanity, it becomes very difficult to judge or hold contempt for other people.  If we understand the way a character thinks well enough to play them on stage, those lessons learned, that understanding and empathy are often infused  into an actor’s every-day life.    

Why is everyone JUDGING ME!!??

 

 Does that open-mindedness and understanding of any and all behavioral possibilities mean the theatrical profession draws people who might not find loving, open, general acceptance of their “true selves” in other professions?   I think it might. That in no way bothers me because I serve a Christ who taught us to love one another.   

That does not mean you don’t set limits as an actor.   

It is a good thing for every actor to insist on respect for their own limits when it comes to language, content, dress, etc.   

I won't do that.

 

  We have to consider our audience and the vulnerabilities of other actors when making those decisions.  Can a married actor kiss another actor?  Can a Christian actor play the part of Christ one week and a serial killer the next?  Those are limits that are best decided between you and God, taking into consideration the people you have relationships with, and the personal image you wish to project to the world.   

At Rush Hour, we have some self-imposed limits that we think are healthy.  Men help men in the dressing rooms, women help women.  Same thing with adjusting mic pacs and running cords through clothing.  We’re not prudes (believe me!) we just respect each other enough not to go there.  When someone is on a diet, we don’t throw cake in their faces either.   Our audience demographic is primarily elementary-school children and their parents so we use cool dance moves, not provocative ones.  Our dress is contemporary, not sexy.  We push conservative boundaries with body humor (aka “burp” jokes and stinky feet) but we avoid violent talk and sexual innuendoes in our scripts and movement (and in our back-stage talk as well).   

I’ve known Christian leaders so convinced that the perception of the theatre was ungodly, they strongly discouraged the use of theatrical terminology.  In one church environment, I was corrected for using the words “stage”  “acts” (as in Act I, Act II), “show” or “play.”  We didn’t do “productions” , we did “extravaganzas!”  It wasn’t a “show” it was a “praise-en-ta-tion!”  I kid you not.   

RMCC Creative Arts Director, Phil Christain

 

 Today, I am SO BLESSED!  Our Creative Arts Director (love you Phil!)  does not distract us with these artificial limitations.   Just as we have brilliant men of science and engineering who attend our church and are not ashamed to use the terminology of their professions, we too, as actors, use the terms of our own trade.   

We embrace the craft of acting, the way Christ and his father embraced the craft of carpentry.  Can you imagine a carpenter who doesn’t use the term “joint”?  Seems silly to us, so we use the vernacular of the theatre when appropriate.  End of rant.  Just kidding, I have more to say.  

Did you know theatre was condemned as ungodly and almost forbidden during the dark ages?  Sure, you know that… but did you know that theatre first re-emerged during the later dark ages in …  

Passion plays grew popular and eventually became quite elaborate.

 

 CHURCHES??  It was common to act out Biblical stories for a population that could not read –  and even if they could read, they would need to read LATIN to make sense of it! (Translations in English for the common man came later.)  Some scholars I have read actually say that church passion plays were the catalysts that propelled society from the dark ages into the Renaissance!   

But I digress!  Back now to why I like the idea of a Bible verse that encourages actors…  

If you are an actor, a performer, or a singer, I hope this verse spoke to the creative artist in you.  I hope we can celebrate our gifts with HUMBLE-ATION!  God totally gets the art of creation!  He sings with the voice of birds, and paints with light in the sky, He dances in the water, the waves, and the wind, and He speaks in the thunder and the laughter of children.  All our world is His stage where He is the ink on the page and the light in the dark theatre! He is the author and originator of these gifts, and He gave them to us to use for His glory.   

I believe He wants us to polish these gifts like gems, and use them in praise of the Giver.  Every word an act of worship.  Every note an act of worship, every stitch, every step, every breath an act of worship.  

hugs, V  

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