Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Musings on the Creator in Me

Drama is the theme this week at HSB -- in honour of Shakespeare's birthday (April 23). My initial response to the topic was, "I have enough drama in my life, thank you!" But I guess that's not the kind of drama we're discussing, is it?!?!? ;)

Being Easter weekend and all, my mind then went to the world famous Oberammergau Passion Play, a community drama depicting the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus performed every ten years to honour a pledge made in 1633 in response to the Bubonic Plague. To think that a whole village has united, with over 2000 community members participating in the dramatic presentations, every ten years for hundreds of years, is mind-boggling. What a wonderful experience it would be to witness such a presentation -- and what an honour it would be to participate!

There is something to be said for the power of drama. Who of us has not been moved by a dramatic presentation -- be it a movie, a commercial, a play, or a short skit? When I attended the recent Revolve Tour with DD13, I was moved to tears on more than one occasion as the talented team presented vignettes that addressed real-life issues that teens face today. Drama has the capacity to touch our hearts in ways that mere words or images cannot, and the impact can be enduring. (Alas -- it can work to the negative, too, so we must exercise caution.)

But participating in meaningful dramas can be life-changing. Not only does it develop important communication skills and boost personal confidence -- it can enable us to relate to people and characters in ways that profoundly impact the way we think and view the world. For example, my husband said his role as the crucified Christ in an Easter play at our church  gave him incredibly new insight into the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, as well as the thoughts and feelings that those closest to Him must have experienced. That translated into a deeper appreciation of Jesus's gift of salvation. What a blessing! That experience gave him new insights into the power of drama, and when he later had the opportunity (as director) to cast someone else in the role of Jesus, he was compelled to offer the role to an individual who had strayed in his relationship with Christ, but really wanted to play the part. Because of his own experience, my husband knew that the young man was bound to encounter God in a mighty way by assuming the role of Jesus.

So what are some ways that we and our children can participate in meaningful dramatic experiences? Let's brainstorm some, shall we?
  • Instead of just reading stories or books (including the bible and history texts), we can engage in re-enacting the stories, striving to relate in meaningful ways to the historical people and literary characters.
  • We can respond to literature with dramatic presentations. Instead of talking or writing our responses to something we've read, we can perform a dramatic monologue of what one of the characters might have thought or said in a context outside of the original author's story. This enables us to integrate what we've learned from the story and apply it in a different context.
  • Acting out character-building issues can be a powerful tool for instruction. Children asked to role-play a scene in which one person is treated unkindly, for example, can help them relate in a personal way, which can then positively affect their behaviour in real life. Adults, too, can learn meaningful things by role-playing situations -- say in a marriage relationship context, or even in the workplace.
  • We can become involved in community theatre groups. Many regions have local drama troups for both children and adults. They may not be as impressive as the Oberammergau dramatic productions, but they can still be valuable experiences. Even the most rural communities often have fabulous theatre opportunities.
  • We can become involved in church drama ministries -- ministries that can span the gamut of ages from young children to seniors. Not only does this provide opportunities for individuals to gain insights, confidence, and skills through participation in drama, it also provides fabulous opportunities for inter-generational connections within the church family.
  • We can participate in things like Vacation Bible School, in which dramatic presentations are a key tool in conveying the gospel message to children who may never have heard it.
  • We can participate in historical re-enactments at local museums and heritage settings (such as pioneer villages).
While even the shyest person can come to life on "stage" (ask me how I know!) and develop wonderful communication skills and confidence, acting is not the only way to participate in a formal drama. Casting, directing, set design, stage management, lighting, costume design, understudies and prompting are all "behind the scenes" ways that people who have no interest in memorizing and delivering lines can fully engage in a formal dramatic production. Do not underestimate the power of being immersed in a drama in any capacity!


What power has drama had in your life? Can you think of other ways for children and adults to become involved in drama for a rich, personal experience? Is the Creator in you calling you to creatively engage in some sort of drama?

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