Saturday, October 30, 2010

Clifford Miller, PhD., December 3, 1916 - October 29, 2010

I've had many wonderful mentors over the years, but I can't think of a single person who inspired more of who I am today than my Grandpa Miller.

I got nothing from him genetically. He married Grandma who lost her first husband when Mom was three months old.

When I was three years old he published his doctoral thesis and dedicated it to Ricky. He and Grandma were the only ones who ever called me that, but even when I grew older I was still Rick to him. That dedication did so much to empower me throughout my formative years.

So did his stories of life on the mission field. He taught high school at the Rift Valley Academy in Kenya, where Mom and Aunt Jeri attended for almost five years, from 1948 to 1952. He also traveled extensively through Europe. After returning from the mission field he taught history at what is now Southern Oregon State University. There he continued to jog on their track until his doctor urged him to turn to walking. Until last year he would walk an hour outside just about every day, and when his doctor asked him not to leave the building he turned to a stationary bike.

So now I perform historical plays that minister to people all over the world, and one of the protagonists is an Olympic runner.

I'm so grateful that I got to thank him for all of that about an hour before his death. My folks called from his room, so I thanked him and prayed with him, praising the Lord with him that he was trusting Jesus to cover his sins and enabling him to live forever in his presence.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Source of Love

I saw The Source of Love, a film produced by Donald Leow who directed For the Glory, in which I played the soccer coach. I was so moved by The Source of Love, which takes place in one of my favorite cities, Hong Kong. It tells the story of a family struggling with very real issues, showing the very real answer in a compelling way.

My bride came to the Lord through a presentation in a restaurant with silverware and salt and pepper shakers, so the creative use of folded and cut paper was truly heartwarming for me.

There is some violence, but no profanity. It deals with an out of wedlock pregnancy but nothing of a sexual nature is portrayed.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Student Paper on Rich Swingle

Addi Musen, a student at North Greenville University interviewed me for this paper, which she's agreed to share.


Audition and Career Management

Interview with Rich Swingle

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Rich Swingle and ask him a few questions concerning acting, auditioning, and finding jobs. Rich is an actor and performance teacher predominantly known for his one-man shows, including “Beyond the Chariots” in which he depicts the life of runner Eric Liddell. He has been invited to perform and lead drama workshops in 21 nations all over the world. Back in the United States, Mr. Swingle is the Director of Theatre at the Masterworks Festival – a Christian music and theatre summer intensive program.
The first question that I asked Mr. Swingle was, “What all is a part of your job description?” He explained, “I write my own one-man plays, perform them and other work for stage, film, etc, direct others in performances, teach acting and presentation skills. I also wrote the first draft of a documentary on Eric Liddell and am working on a screen play that tells the rest of the Chariots of Fire story.”
It is evident that Mr. Swingle has a very full schedule. It made me curious to how he first got into the “business”. He answered this question by saying, “In 1994 I was asked to move someone's belongings across country and I set up performances along the way with a friend. The next summer another friend asked if I wanted to travel with him when he moved to Seattle to work as managing director of Taproot Theatre Co. We set up performances along the way and the first friend joined me for performances on the return trip. When I came back I decided that I'd do it full-time since my room and board was covered by work I did where I was living.” I asked him how he went about getting jobs when he was first beginning. He wrote, “I made a lot of cold calls in those early days, calling up churches in denominations in which I had and was currently involved or I thought would benefit from my performances.”
Mr. Swingle also wrote about some of the parts of his job that he enjoys the most. He explained that he enjoys everything that he does, particularly performing his one-man shows, but that he is not able to make money consistently by performing. He is thankful for the related work, such as teaching and directing, to provide a living.
One question I asked him was how he personally prepared for auditions. His answer is as follows: “I've landed 4 out of 4 films for which I've auditioned this year. I brought Bev Holloway out to the MasterWorks Festival, where I direct the theatre program. (Beverly Holloway has been working as an independent Casting Director for over 15 years) I listened intensely to her advice and put it into practice. I think that one of the things that has helped me land the jobs is that I really put my all into each audition and I auditioned for every role that I thought I could do. That way, they were able to see that I have range.”
While Mr. Swingle did not give specific examples of how he prepared for auditions, his philosophy of being completely dedicated to every audition was a great piece of advice for me. I also learned that I should not limit myself to only auditioning for a specific type of character, but I should try out for any role that I believe is in my power to play.
I am often curious about working with secular companies and how to deal with conflict if any arises. I questioned Mr. Swingle about this. His answer challenged me. He wrote, “All of my work coaching presentation skills is with secular organizations. Also, many projects that I've worked on have been secular. I've had to walk away from some auditions, but in the long run I believe that I've earned the respect of each of those that were involved.”
I was inspired by his witness to step out of my comfort zone and to go wherever God leads me. I am also learning that I must stand up for my beliefs in the face of adversity, just like Mr. Swingle did when he had to walk away from the audition for whatever reason. He further explained that he wrote a letter of apology to the casting directors for wasting their time by not asking more questions about the audition beforehand. Mr. Swingle informed me that there are different ways to deal with uncomfortable situations or conflicts like that. He told me about his friend, “a fellow Christian actor said that his strategy is to just give the audition his best and, if he gets a call back, just says he isn't available. I think that's a personal call that may need to be made for each situation”. This was great advice and I trust that God will give me the wisdom to deal with conflict in a way that is respectful, professional, and most importantly, pleasing to Him.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Rich Swingle on two occasions when I was in high school. He was a very dynamic and engaging performer and also a very wise teacher. At that time, I had a lot of uncertainty about what I wanted to do with my life. It was very inspirational to see Mr. Swingle, a great man of faith, working professionally with theatre all over the world! He was one of the main factors in my decision to study theatre. I could see his passion for the theatre and his determination to reach the lost and I wanted to be a part of it as well.


(Thanks again for your help, Rich. I look forward to seeing you again next semester! - Addi)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Laying carpet

I got to help lay carpet in the new theatre's lighting booth at North Greenville University. Now when I perform in March (http://itinerary.richdrama.com) Dr. Savidge mentioned that I can say I helped build the theatre. ;-)

He casts a long shadow

I'm in South Carolina for Christians in Theatre Arts board meetings in North Carolina. I've volunteered to do a write-up about some of the exciting things we discussed. Become a member so you won't miss it: http://CITA.org.

I got to tour the new theatre complex at North Greenville University, where I'll perform in March. It was designed by Dr. Dale Savidge, who runs the department, executive directs CITA, founded the MasterWorks theatre department (http://RichDrama.com/MWF), and works as my booking agent. His contributions to my life and career are innumerable.



Jonah Be Good

I'm at the chapel for North Greenville University, Greenville, SC, where I'll be performing in the spring: http://itinerary.richdrama.com.

Today's musical guest sang of Old Testament heroes called to impossible challenges set to the tune of Johnny B. Goode.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The World's First Bicycle Rickshaw Theatre

My friend, Hunter Barnes, is creating the world's first bicycle rickshaw theatre, and he's invited me to perform on it once it's completed. Check it out and contribute if you can.

Monday, October 18, 2010

West Coast Premiere

I performed the West Coast premiere of God of Hope in Medford, OR, where I grew up. It's a wonderful part of the planet for a number of reasons. There were several moments during the first part of the service when I started to weep, thinking about how the host church, Medford Friends, had nurtured my growth spiritually and artistically.





Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Leaving DC

I've had a great stint in this area. Now I'm heading back home to NYC to reignite my God of Hope piece for next Sunday in Oregon: http://itinerary.richdrama.com.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Amazing Month of MasterWorks!






We had an amazing month at the MasterWorks Festival! In this photo we're praying for international and Off-Broadway producer, John Forbes, who shared his life-transforming testimony as a part of his master class.

Bev Holloway with student, Irene Kao, and instructor, Patricia Mauceri.

Bev Holloway, casting director for Like Dandelion Dust, Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius, The Ultimate Gift and about 30 others, took time away from directing Beauty and the Beast in LA to do a casting session with our students, having them read from some of her recent projects.



Larry Poland came out to preach one of our sermons and teach a master class. Larry founded Mastermedia International, which ministers to executives in the media. They produce a prayer calendar of the top 365 media leaders and cultural influencers.

Patricia Mauceri (One Life to Live) and Susie Somerville Brown (CATS on Broadway) returned as faculty, bringing even sharper insights to our students from their decades of experience in professional theatre, television and film.



Our main play this year was The Miracle Worker, which tells the story of Annie Sullivan's struggle to help the blind and deaf Helen Keller understand that everything has a word. I got to preach a sermon on the fourth Sunday of MasterWorks, and I drew upon the strong images in the play. When I got back home I preached a similar sermon, Finding Our Identity in the Upper Room, which is available on our church's website, WestchesterChapel.org. After both services we offered a foot washing, and in both settings many came forward to wash and receive.

The play itself was quite well-received. There were less than 20 seats available during all four performances, and for our closing show about 20 people sat on the floor or stood.


A month before MasterWorks began several from the theatre program were involved in the upcoming film For the Glory. To find out more about their involvement click here.



Hannah Cushingham, who was a theatre student last year, drove up for a day to be baptized by my bride, Joyce,  an ordained minister who served the MasterWorks community as lead counselor, and myself. Hannah led the way, and by the end of the month we had baptized seven, most at or in Winona Lake, the site of our festival. Many of their parents read scripture and prayed over them. Joyce baptized them officially, and then I got to dunk them. Now Hannah is doing an internship at the International House of Prayer.

To audition for MasterWorks 2011 visit MasterWorksFestival.org.

To see last year's report and the many comments accompanying it click here.

To see what students have said about the program over the years click here.

Photo credits from the top: Kevin Hanse (MasterWorks photographer), courtesy of Irene Kao, Rich Swingle, Paula Bernhardt, Rich Swingle, courtesy of Hannah Cushingham.

For more photos visit the album MWF 2010 at Facebook.com/RichDrama

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Premieres Friday

Here's a great article on Jim Stovall: Tulsa-made movie premieres Friday.

Stovall is one of the producers of A Christmas Snow--the film premiering Friday in which I play the role of Claud--and the writer of the novel The Ultimate Gift, which became the movie that is still the number one best-selling family drama film at Amazon and Walmart. The casting director, Bev Holloway, has been a master class instructor at MasterWorks three times.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Skype Works

Professor Martin brought Rich in for a video lecture using Skype.
Thank you again so much for today! I had many students come up to me afterward thanking me for bringing you to the class. I think for a lot of seniors, as they approach graduation, it can feel overwhelming trying to figure out the next steps. So to have heard from you, someone living and working successfully in NYC, proved to be incredibly valuable to them.
--Christopher Martin, M.F.A.
Assistant Professor, Theatre
Oral Roberts University

A new review

I just stumbled across this new review on Amazon for Memoirs of a Hollywood Adventure by Mac Nelson, who was a master class instructor at MasterWorks last year...

Yes, there are the requisite references to his personal experiences with the famous and the infamous--Was Jerry Lewis a "nice guy" or not, what was Roy Rogers really like, are Hollywood producers just like the movies portray them, and just who was that blood soaked young man Mac enountered running down the street the night a famous Hollywood murder took place? This book is fun to read as a true and fascinating tale of one young man's journey from backwater Missisippi to Tinseltown, What makes it special is that its more than just an account of what its like to land broke and alone on Hollywood Blvd and trying to make it BIG in the movies. It's also an insightful, heartwarming coming of age story--a journey of insight discovered and maturity found that results in the acheivement of a kind of spiritual Oscar--for "best human being". If you like stories about Hollywood, if you ever wondered what it would have been like if you had sought your big break in the movies, and especially if you are a young person planning a career in film you will want (strike that...you NEED) to read this book.
David Bloodgood
Orlando, FL