Theatre Church (part II)

Interrupting my reading of ‘Why Men Hate Going to Church’ was a thought about my placement next year.

The end of term has peeked its head over the horizon with part of everyone jumping up and down and another half dreading the looming deadlines that go along with it. As we all suffer from a kind of split personality the basic truth stares us in the face; it’s another round of ‘big change’! Some of our community will be leaving and new comers will be arriving. Stuck in the middle of mourning and welcoming are those of us staying (some, like me, will do this again next year). What do we do with our summer?

For me, certainly, I will need to prepare for next year’s placement. It has been almost six months in the praying stage and it seems it’s finally time to make some positive actions. But how do you successfully transfer theory into practice?

Last time, I laid down some possible avenues for action; a resourcing of future ministers of the church and discussing a large scale resourcing via Riding Lights Theatre Company. I discussed with the Administrator at college a time to run a workshop on drama worship… there’s no time! Do I leave this for next year? I think it is an important task and something I should be looking at doing; making sure that my fellow students feel they can use drama effectively and not either shy away from it or overuse it. The other avenue will need to wait til Riding Light’s Theatre Summer School at the end of July.

These avenues, however, are not productive in the new community I feel called to oversee. How do you call people to join a community? I don’t want to feel like I have to do a big marketing scheme (somehow it lacks God fingerprints!) nor do I want to just passively wait for people to guess that’s what I’m doing. The balancing act has begun. I will need to push for some sort of space or time to openly invite anyone who wants to come along. I need to be clear and honest about the intention and yet make it open and flexible for others to bring what they need to bring. What space or time would suit the drama community here in Durham?

After Any Given Friday, I had a chat with some of the actors involved. We talked about the nature of rehearsals in the Durham Student Theatre group; the fast turnaround, the lack of momentum in experiences and the quickly made quickly passed relationships. What is God wanting me to introduce to this already packed market?

Space and Time.

For me, the process of rehearsal is where the most spiritual and profound discoveries are made. It is in the vulnerability of the rehearsal room that an actor and director make fresh discoveries about themselves and each other. This space needs to be a place of vulnerability and trust. This cannot be made in a short period of time with actors who are not fully committed to each other. Therefore for me to facilitate deep discoveries for these actors, to give them time to reflect on themselves and their story, I need to introduce a space and the time for a committed group of actors to meet and ‘play’.

To set up a theatre company or not to set up a theatre company, that is the question?

The negative to doing this is the connotation for production rather than process. If I do set up a ‘theatre company’ then I need to be extra clear as the purpose of its creation; to be a committed company with longer rehearsal times and continuation of process. I need to contrast it with the current theatre companies in Durham by highlighting a year long process of discovery and exploration. Yes, we will produce work but the work will stem from the process rather than the process necessary for the production.

The other negative to doing this is a personal one. Do I want to set up a theatre company because I know how to do it? Is this me running off shouting back to God “I know how to do this. I’ll meet you when I get stuck!” Or am I going into this with God? I think a theatre company would give stability and commitment for the actors and will give them a framework in order to explore, acting like a playground in which to play but is this what God wants?… the million dollar question!

Thinking back to ‘11&12’ (see Wrestling with Truth (part VII)) I am really keen to take the work I was doing in the theatre, which stems from Peter Brook’s work (naturally), and use it here. The techniques and theories I was developing in my personal processes of direction do lend themselves, in part, to exploration of faith. I have not seen the style of theatre that I produce here in Durham and I think people will be interested in trying a new style. Just because I see a ‘gap in the market’ does that mean it’s a God thing? Not necessarily but it’ll be worth trying and praying as I do so that God will quickly close doors and guide me.

Over the summer, therefore, I will be planning and preparing workshops on different practitioners (see Any Given Friday (part VII)) and I can feed into these sessions a call to anyone who wants to do some exploration and coming on board to commit to a theatre company that will be doing interesting and innovative work.

Just a final thought… I may try and adapt ‘The Flood’ by David Maine, which I did for some scenes at the start of my time in Durham. A modern telling of Noah.

Too Christian?


  1. it is good to hear that you are also strugalling with how God wants you to use your existing skills, and which ones sre for then, which for now and which for later.It is an underlying strugle to hear God's will against the clamour of academic busy.Thank you

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