Recently I had a conversation with Val Lieske Co-founder and Artistic Director of Fire Exit Theatre in Calgary. What came up in our discussion was the good and efficient way that drama (art) can address issues that are common to persons whose lives and beliefs are very different. The example we talked about was a dramatic piece on the subject of divine absence.
The performance was called Absence and included perspectives of both a theist and a non-theist each of whom in different ways knew something of the experience of divine absence. Drama has the capacity to bring the familiar to us in a fresh way. Not long ago I met Alison Siewert who is on staff with InterVarsity in the Toronto office. Though I am not able to tell you all that she does in that role I can tell you that she has a passionate interest in drama and a wealth of experience in the dramatic arts. While music has been the art of choice for the church, drama has in recent years also been welcomed into the sanctuary. Alison has compiled two very useful books on the dramatic arts and the church.
Drama Team Handbook provides a wealth of practical information on such topics as writing scripts, acting and directing. The material in this work is instructive and insightful. The pieces are short and to the point. Actress Nina Thiel along with well known actor Bruce Kuhn (artist in residence at Regent College this year) collaborate on a short essay titled Bringing the Word to Life. What contributors to this volume are clear about is that they are not advocates of drama that is “preachy” or mere “propaganda”
Art is not meant to manipulate the audience rather it serves to awaken us,make us curious, reveal our inner lives remind us of our foolishness – our humanity – and ultimately to change us. In addition to all this the book includes scripts for 14 performance pieces. The other book Drama Team Sketchbook contains twelve different scripts each based on a biblical text but not immediately recognizable as such.
This is a book that offers some good models for script writing and fine illustrations of how to adapt a text for a contemporary audience. Alison Siewert is also involved in a theatre performance of Mark’s Gospel.