I held auditions tonight for the Lenten reflection ‘Any Given Friday’. Despite a rather poor turn out (1 male and 1 female) it was an encouraging meeting. The poor turn out was due to three issues; 1. The student theatre community is very productive at the moment and so everyone is involved in a show. 2. Not enough preparation and notice given for potential participants. 3. Not a clear communication of the vision. I’ll talk about each of these and what it means in terms of future ministry.
First issue. The theatre community in Durham is very active and is doing some amazing work and great choice of plays. The standard, from what I’ve seen, is very high which is exciting and a great thing to be a part of. This does mean there is an awful lot of competition for people’s time and commitment. If I am to build a community of people who will be committed in some way then what I am doing needs to grab them and excite them. It also means that there needs to be a great deal of time of supporting the work already going on and the people involved. I was involved in a workshop/audition for Durham World Heritage Day today with some members of the student theatre community. It’s a very exciting project and there was a real buzz about the room. It was a great opportunity for furthering my contacts in this community and my name is beginning to be known. The Lenten reflection is a great time for bringing in people who are interested in my ministry and what I am doing with the theatre community. I’d love to be able to make plans for the future so people can start thinking about it now.
Which leads me to my next issue. Because of work and time management issues, I was unable to dedicate my time to the publicity of auditions. This meant that the notice that went out was unclear and mediocre. The other issue was that I started creating this about two or three weeks ago when I was asked. In the theatre world that’s a rehearsal period and so if I was to get a group of actors from a community that didn’t know me I needed to be doing the ground work in January at the latest. Now that I’m getting my name and face around and people are beginning to discover that I’m a Christian training to be a minister, then, if I were to begin something, there would be more chance of people getting involved. As it is, this project had to stand on its own if it was going to attract attention from a busy student theatre community.
Which leads on to my final issue. The vision, in the audition notice, was not communicated clearly. Angela Shia-Jones talks at length about communicating the vision. It is simple marketing of an idea. People need to glimpse some excitement if they are to buy into it. I have never been good at expressing a vision in words. Let me talk and I can paint wonderful pictures and give someone a glimpse of the vision; that’s why preaching, for me, is at the centre of my ministry. I can communicate face to face but in the distanced word plays I struggle. For future ministry there is a necessity for me to meet with people face to face rather than communicate through email or facebook. (Ironic that I’m choosing words to communicate my vision to you!)
Having said all that, the meeting was a real encouragement. Both people got excited about the project and were enthusiastic. One asked if she could invite her friends to come along even though she knew it was a worship service. She is a Christian and is involved in an Easter service so this is a great encouragement and a wonderful new friend who I can talk about theatre and faith with. The other interesting thing about the meeting was the other person who joined us.
Last term I was introduced to this guy in the bar. He was directing his first show at his college and he invited me to come and watch and give him some advice. I duly went and watched. During the performance I reflected on how I was going to do incarnational mission to all these student actors. I could continue to hang around bars where they go after rehearsal but, I thought, in order to talk to them about deeper issues and get to know them and how to minister to them I would need to create a forum for those discussion. The place? The rehearsal room. And so it was, in the darkened theatre during this guy’s show my mind started on a journey which has led me to exploring this relationship between theatre and my ministry. Here he was, sitting, getting involved in my first steps of this journey and he was a catalyst for it.
God’s moving in these people’s lives and I saw a small glimpse of it tonight…