Sunday, December 25, 2011

An Unexpected Surprise

Pastor Randy Solomon preaches on Luke 2:1-20.

 Pastoral prayer by Linda Warren

Additional comments by Claude Chew.

 "Harvey Silverstein" by Mac Nelson is performed by Rich Swingle.  Thomas Tornado Tinglehoop (mentioned in this version of the sketch) is the hero of Jim Warren and Rich Swingle's children's book Thomas Tornado Tinglehoop and the Three Christmas Clues.

 

 This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

 Here is Rich's performance of Harvey Silverstein The Innkeeper on the other side of the wall from what is believed to be the actual manger in which Jesus was born. Our guide to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem said it's over 9 out of 10 probability that it's the actual manger because a Byzantine church is built over a little chapel enclosing a stone manger. It is the oldest church on earth that is still being used. It was built within 100 years of Jesus' death, so it was the grandkids of those who were there that identified it as The Spot.

 

 "Harvey Silverstein" © Copyright 2011 by Mac Nelson and Rich Swingle.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Picture of Our King

Pastor Linda with the
painting to which she
refers in her sermon.
Painting: "Father's Prize"
by Pastor Linda's mother,
Edith DeCecca.
Pastor Linda Warren preaches on Isaiah 11:1-10.

 Call to worship by Rich Swingle.

 Scripture reading by Chris L. and Tamara W. (NIV)

 Pastoral and closing prayers by Joyce Swingle.

 Testimonies by Claude Chew and Pastor Randy Solomon.

 

 This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.
Edward Hicks (1780-1849)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Kazakhstan connection


As I was getting on a connecting flight in Charlotte I saw a fellow wearing a Beijing Olympics sweatshirt. I found out he competed there for Kazakhstan, so I told him "Salamatzas ba" (hello in Kazakh) and we chatted until they called my boarding zone. As I was on the phone telling Joyce about how cool the encounter was he sat next to me! I told him about my performances in Beijing during those Olympics, and he showed me his photo with Michael Phelps. He's a Christian, and he showed me the cross on his necklace. He explained that it's a bit corroded from the chlorine because he wears it during his practices and competitions! We prayed together on the tarmac, especially that when he competes in March to qualify for the London Olympics that he will succeed. Join us in praying that he will, and that he will carry his witness there to people from around the world. The person who taught me Kazakh phrases runs a theatre in Almaty, Kazakhstan, so I'm praying that my new friend can connect with her during his month home.

I was transferring notes from an old draft of Views of the Manger, so I was able to give him the script to read on his next leg to Kiev. Pray it has a lasting impact.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Advent of God

Joyce preaches on Matthew 1:18-24, and I continue my piece "What!?" from my play, Views of the Manger. Additional prayers and comments by Bill Huisman and Pastors Linda Warren and Randy Solomon at Westchester Chapel.



This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

Love bade me welcome


This is one of five poems by George Herbert that I performed at The Kennedy Center in 2002.  It was hanging on the wall in the room where I stayed while in Chicago with the father of Melissa Lorraine, who performs the one-woman play, Juliet: A Dialogue About Love.

Wheaton College Church, where I miraculously performed that night, had asked Melissa's parents if they'd host me. Later he realized Joyce and I had hosted Melissa in '07. I had met her at a speed networking session at a Christians in Theatre Arts conference, there in Chicago. We had two minutes to share about our work. She said, "I'm going to perform at the Fringe Festival this summer."

"So am I!" I bellowed. "I'll see you in Edinburgh!" Turns out she was performing at the New York Fringe Festival the same weeks we were performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. So we let her apartment sit.

So her folks returned the favor.  I asked Melissa's father about the significance of the poem, and he shared that after many years of rejecting the love of God and her family she wrote out this poem and framed it for her father's birthday present, to let them know that she had accepted Love...

"Love bade me welcome, but my soul drew back
Guilty of dust and sin. 
But quick-eyes Love, observing me grow slack 
From my first entrance in
Drew near to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.
"A guest," I answered, "worthy to be here."
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? Ah, my dear, 
I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply, 
"Who made the eyes but I?"
"Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.
~George Herbert

On the Christmas card Melissa wrote, "Please forgive the five-year-old quality of this gift...I wish it was just a little bit prettier.  But know that the reason this is your gift today is because I finally and fully know Him and I have at long last pulled my chair up to His feast...."

Melissa's dad invited me to read a chapter she wrote in Mere Christians: Inspiring Stories of Encounters with C. S. Lewis. I was sobbing after Melissa's profound retelling of how she found Jesus in a very secular theatre company commune in Hungary by reading pages from C. S. Lewis' book, Surprised by Joy, which her sister had selected for her.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Shepherd's Daughter in the Shepherd's Cave of Bethlehem

Joyce performed this piece that she wrote in the Shepherds' Cave of Bethlehem during our trip to Jordan and Israel through CITA to the Nations.

 

 This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Margot Morrell

I ran into Margot Morrell tonight at MasterMedia's Christmas party. She's written books on Ronald Reagan and Sir Ernest Shackleton, who led his crew of 27 through the frigid wasteland of Antarctica. She encouraged me to turn them both into one-man plays. I'm intrigued...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Advent of the Lord

Rachel Taylor preaches on Mark 1: 1-8 after Rich Swingle's performance of the first half of "What!?", a sketch from his one-man play Views of the Manger.

 

 This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

Interview with Donald James Parker

Here's my interview with Donald James Parker on his show Wielding the Sword of the Spirit:


Listen to internet radio with Donald James Parker on Blog Talk Radio

Here are the links I mention on the show:
Beyond the Chariots: RichDrama.com/BeyondtheChariots
 Plays: RichDrama.com Click on Feature Length Plays in right index
A Christmas Snow: RichDrama.com/AChristmasSnow
MasterWorks Theatre report: RichDrama.com/MWF
 List of former master class instructors at MasterWorks: click here
MasterWorks Theatre Program for 2012: RichDrama.comMWFTheatre2012
Filmography: films.richdrama.com
Writer's Block: RichDrama.com/WritersBlock
Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action: RichDrama.com/IvyLeague
Graceworks: GraceworksInc.com
Itinerary: itinerary.richdrama.com

Christmas Greetings!


5x7 Folded Card
View the entire collection of cards.
We pray all God’s best as we enter into this season of celebrating our Savior’s incarnation and birth as the Baby Jesus.  May all His Love flow over and in you this holy time.
The Swingles had another eventful year:
  • Joyce completed her first year as lead/senior pastor of Westchester Chapel Community Church of the Nazarene aka WCCC (WestchesterChapel.org).  She has had the blessing of celebrating Christ in this beloved community for almost 15 years and has seen the Lord bring people to Himself, grow them into steadfast, faithful and Spirit-filled believers and mature them to continue to witness to His Love and Presence.  God has blessed this little group of the faithful through a time of reconstruction and return to the core of the faith:  Christ Alone.  It has been an eventful and rewarding journey.
  • This was Rich's busiest year. He was in front of groups teaching, speaking, preaching or performing over 275 times on three continents, four nations and 17 states. He broke another personal record by performing nine of his 11 productions (only A Clear Leading and The Revelation were left out of the lineup: RichDrama.com), including two new offerings: Paradise Lost (which you can watch in its entirety) and Shepherds Reflect on Psalm 23 (which you can hear in its entirety). 
  • Rich and Joyce performed, taught and or preached in four nations this year:  Jordan and Israel in May as Rich co-led a Christians in Theatre Arts (CITA.org) tour: CITAToTheNationsJordanAndIsrael.Shutterfly.com.  Taiwan and Singapore (Rich only) in the fall as both Swingles taught at a Spiritual Life Week at Morrison Academy and Rich went on to Singapore to perform Beyond the Chariots for a packed-out event for Singapore Youth Day. Joyce went back to the US to preach in Pittsburgh. There was a twelve hour period where the Swingles were performing for 12 hours straight in both hemispheres!
  • The Swingles also had the incredible experience of appearing as husband/wife, father/mother of nine (pictured in the photo card above) in the lovely film Indescribable (RichDrama.com/Indescribable), which tells the story of God’s love.  The film is expected to be released next summer.
  • Rich enjoyed unusually joyous camaraderie on the set of Writers' Block (RichDrama.com/WritersBlock), a comedy about two screen writers forced to hole up overnight and turn out a blockbuster script.  The Presence of the Lord was so strong on the set that the participants still share the wonder with each other.
  • We too want to share the wonder of the surrendered life with you.  We’ve been preaching for some time at WCCC on the freedom that is in Christ and have walked with Him through the shedding of sins and idolatries of all sorts.  (You'll find some messages on WestchesterChapel.org at the bottom of the center column, including recordings of Views of the Manger as Rich shares it week by week this Advent.) The result for those who have allowed God to work has been an increasing freedom in the Spirit -- freedom to enjoy God’s Presence and to serve as He calls in joyous, fruitful measure.  We pray just such blessings for you this season and in the year to come. 
In Christ Alone,  
Rich and Joyce Swingle

P.S. If you're still looking for some gift-giving ideas consider some of Rich's projects: 
A Christmas Snow (also check out your local listings) 
God of Hope
Sponsor a child as a gift to someone you know and to a child in a developing nation: RichDrama.com/Compassion
 P.P.S. Here's Joyce's performance of her one-woman piece The Shepherd's Daughter, performed in the Shepherds' Cave of Bethlehem.




Here is Rich's performance of Harvey Silverstein The Innkeeper on the other side of the wall from what is believed to be the actual manger in which Jesus was born. Our guide to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem said it's over 9 out of 10 probability that it's the actual manger because a Byzantine church is built over a little chapel enclosing a stone manger. It is the oldest church on earth that is still being used. It was built within 100 years of Jesus' death, so it was the grandkids of those who were there that identified it as The Spot.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Freud's Last Session...again


Joyce and I saw Freud's Last Session tonight. I loved it for the second time! The difference was that in Atlanta C.S. Lewis had more fans, and here in New York Freud seemed to hold sway. Still, Truth was spoken, and hopefully there will many that turn up the music, as Freud does in the end, and wonder.

Have you registered for the Secondary Festival yet?

I'll be adjudicating and leading a workshop at this event...

When the New Year begins, registration for the CITA Secondary School Theatre Festival CLOSES. Don't miss the deadline! Registration closes on January 3, 2012.

We are happy to announce that several college representatives are on board to interview and recruit students at the festival. We will also be presenting two $1,000 scholarships to the best male and best female senior performers.

If you would like to bring students or if you are a college representative and would like to meet prospective students, be sure to check out our website for information on festival registration, hotel information, and more! Also, "like" us on Facebook to receive helpful tips on how to prepare for the festival! You DO NOT want to miss this wonderful event!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Advent of the Light

Pastor Linda Warren preaches on John 1:1-18 after Rich Swingle performs Part 2 of Views of the Manger, "Guess What", the story of Gabriel's announcement to Mary. In this recording Pastor Joyce Swingle lends her voice to Mary's reaction to the news.

Pastoral prayer by Joyce Swingle.

 

 This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Butterfly Circus

I have a friend who performed a minor role in Butterfly Circus, which won $100,000 for first place at The Doorpost Film Project Competition. It was also recently featured the Searching for Sanctuary Film Festival at Biola University. It's a profound look at hope despite unfortunate circumstances.

It's now being made into a feature film: "The Butterfly Circus" To Get Full-Length Treatment


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Spiritual Life of MasterWorks

Here's a video on the spiritual life of MasterWorks, created by MasterWorks Theatre Department alum, David Kavanaugh. It opens with the Bible study that Joyce and I had the pleasure of leading, along with Terry Ewell, who composed new music for Paradise Lost, in which I performed earlier this year.

 

God of Hope DVD now available

In this section of the larger God of Hope project, which includes a book, music CD, audio book and DVD, I play the Apostle Paul.

When Paul begins telling his story, his hatred of Jesus' followers -- of these traitors to Israel -- is obvious. Paul describes the trial of Peter, the bloody stoning of Stephen, and then his life-changing encounter with the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus. realizing he has been an enemy of God, the terrified Paul believes the situation is hopeless and that he is to be severely judged, but instead he receives God's grace, unlimited love, and the assignment to tell the world that Jesus is King. Paul speaks of rethinking his convictions and learning that God's secret plan is to defeat evil through His Son Jesus.

For the next thirty years, Paul tirelessly and fearlessly preaches the gospel that Jesus is King. Paul also confesses that he is burdened by guilt for his persecution of God's people. Emperor Nero is also persecuting Jesus' followers, and Paul is taken out to be executed. Jesus has not returned, but Paul knows he has fought the good fight and kept the faith. He knows that nothing can separate him from God's love as revealed through God's son Jesus. Before he is executed, Paul calls on the readers to have a spirit of power, of love, of self-discipline; to stand firm in the faith as they wait for Jesus to return; and to do everything in love.

Video and audio excerpts are available here: God's Story.

Quotes
Your performance, GOD OF HOPE, was anointed and filled with the Holy Spirit of God!! Enjoyed it very much... Thank you for blessing the Nyack students with the gift that God has given unto you for His glory!!
--Latricia T. Moore
Pastoral Ministry student (class of 2012)
Nyack College, Manhattan Campus

Rich - I wanted to thank you once again for the awesome performance yesterday at our church! It was a powerful message from the life of Paul who seemed to step out of the pages of the scriptures yesterday. The papers stopped rustling, the auditorium grew silent as the Spirit of God moved amongst us. And I'm SO glad you worked extra hard to prepare this new play as it was exactly where our church has been and exactly what we needed!
--Scott Cornett
Pastor
Bethel Baptist Temple
Cincinnati

I really enjoyed your dramatization/sermon of Saul/Paul! You have a gift!!! Hope you can come back and visit soon!
--Sarah Beth Zylka
Cincinnati

Thank you for coming to our church today. Everyone so enjoyed you!!! I was truly impressed by your drama of Paul's life.
--Mark Doeding
Cincinnati

It was great to have you minister to our people. You certainly did make Paul come to life. Thank you so much.
--Larry Cornett
Pastor
Bethel Baptist Temple
Cincinnati




Rich recorded the voice of Saul/Paul for the Audio Book and performed for the DVD of God of Hope. They are both available now.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Registration Deadline Approaching for CITA Secondary Festival!

I'll be adjudicating events and leading a workshop...
citasecfest

  Everyone at CITA hopes that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great start to the holiday season! We also wanted to remind you that the registration deadline for the CITA Secondary Festival is January 3, 2012! Come take part in this exciting opportunity for students.

Two $1,000 scholarships will be offered to the best male and female performer. Representatives from several colleges will also be attending, including Anderson University, Rocky Mountain College, Asbury College, Abilene Christian University, Lee University, North Greenville University, Indiana Wesleyan University and more!


The CITA Secondary Festival is an opportunity for students who share their common faith and passion for theatre to connect with one another during a weekend of workshops, professional performances and student performances for ajudication.

For more information, please visit our website!

Also, "like" us on Facebook and receive updates about how to prepare for the festival!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Covenant Keeper

Rich Swingle performed his sketch "The Covenant Keeper" from his Christmas play, Views of the Manger, and Pastor Joyce Swingle preached on the text the piece dramatizes: Genesis 15.  This service closes the Freedom Series and launches a five-part series which will include each sketch from Views of the Manger. Opening prayer by Pastor Linda Warren.

 

 This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

Wielding the Sword of the Spirit with guest Rich Swingle

I'll be interviewed by talk show host Donald James Parker on Dec. 11 at 6pm ET. You can also call in and ask questions. I'm looking forward to it.  Click here to listen.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Views of the Manger throughout Advent

I'll be performing my play Views of the Manger throughout Advent and Christmas at Westchester Chapel. Each week I'll perform one of the sections of the play:
Sunday, November 27
The Covenant Keeper: Abraham looks forward to the Christ 
Sunday, December 4
Guess What?: Gabriel brings the Good News that the Light of the World is about to shine 
Sunday, December 11
What!? part 1: Mary tells her fiancĂ©, Joseph, that she and her elderly cousin are with child 
Sunday, December 18
What!? part 2: Joseph sees that his fears were unfounded
Christmas Day, Sunday, December 25
Harvey Silverstein: The innkeeper had no idea who they were 
Sunday, January 1
The New King: Wise men cross the earth to worship Him
After Rich performs in the main service he'll bring the sketch to the nursery. On December 18 he'll perform Thomas Tornado Tinglehoop and the Three Christmas Clues for the nursery in lieu of What!? part 2.

Join us each Sunday at 11am at The Crowne Plaza, 66 Hale Ave, White Plains, NY.

Audio recordings will be posted to WestchesterChapel.org.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Freedom from the Fear of Circumstances

Rich Swingle preaches from Matthew 14: 22-33 on Peter's walk on water. Opening prayer by Pastor Randy Solomon.



This sermon is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store. Here's footage of Rich performing the role of Peter walking on the Sea of Galilee from their May 2011 trip to Jordan and Israel with Christians in Theatre Arts:


Rich alluded to The Tree of Life by Terrance Malick:   

 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The First Thanksgiving

Tonight at our Thanksgiving Eve service one of our pastors, Randy Solomon, told the story of the first Thanksgiving. It's such a powerful story of the Lord's grace on those that came to America for religious freedom. You can read about it in Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, which you can download now on a Kindle:
 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Jeweler's Shop Off-Broadway

This year the MasterWorks Festival Theatre Program will include performances in an Off-Broadway theatre after our final performance in Winona Lake.

Our master class instructors are falling into place. Phillip Telfer wrote, produced and directed a recent documentary called Captivated. I heard Phillip speak to the cast and crew of Indescribable, the film in which Joyce and I played the parents of nine. The documentary wasn't complete last summer, and in fact Phillip interviewed at least one crew member on set. But his talk was so spot on for many of our goals for the theatre program I'm excited that he'll be speaking to us and sharing his documentary. Captivated was featured at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival, where it was runner up for best documentary and an Official Selection as a finalist for Best of Festival, which was won by Courageous.

Our first night in New York we're planning to join a Bible study made up of Broadway actors.

Because this will be our first on-the-road experience, we decided to keep things simple with our play. We'll be performing The Jeweler's Shop, written by Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II. Before he was a priest he was an actor and playwright through the Rhapsodic Theatre in Krakow, Poland, during Nazi occupation. Their focus was on simplicity of production so that the full attention could be placed on meaning and acting.

Besides simplicity, we specifically chose a lesser-known play because New Yorkers have access to popular plays with A-list actors. We wanted to choose a play that would be intriguing to audiences in both Winona Lake and New York, and we believe this play will do just that.

A photo of me from an article
on The Jeweler's Shop
I had the opportunity to perform two roles in the play in the mid-90s with the Polish Theatre Group of New York. We performed it in Michigan, Georgia (here's an article from the Augusta Chronicle: "Pope's play testifies to enduring power of love"),  Florida, including Miami.  We also performed it throughout the New York City area, including a performance at the United Nations that received a standing ovation. In fact, I can't remember a single time during our performances that it did not receive a standing ovation. Before I came on board, they'd performed it at Carnegie Hall and The Lincoln Center, and bookings were underway at Princeton University, Tokyo, Paris, Poland and in The Vatican for the Pope. Unfortunately our director died of a heart attack before those dreams were realized.
The director of our 1990s
production with
Pope John Paul II.

The play tells the story of three couples and the joy and pain of love and marriage. New York's Daily News reported on our production: "City's Polish Troupe Thrives On Pope's Play".

The play employs a very different style from plays we've produced in the past unfolding mostly in a series of monologues directed to the audience. It invites audience members into the private thoughts of the characters at various stages of life and love. This makes the play a great challenge for actors, and as we experienced, it affects audiences in a profound way. Richard Barbuto wrote of our UN performance, "...the play made me feel like I was participating in it. ...It was clearly the the objective of (the) author... to invite the audience to more than aesthetic appreciation: to artistic participation!" I just saw a play Off-Broadway that used this technique with great skill, and it was captivating.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

MasterWorks Theatre Alum in VW spot

Chad Rasor, a MasterWorks alum and recent master class instructor was just featured in this very fun VW ad. (He's the one in the driver's seat.)
 
VW "engage" :60 from derrick borte on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Greetings from all of us at Graceworks!

For over a decade I've used my theatre background to coach people on their presentation skills through Graceworks. I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had to see major breakthroughs, and we send our Thanksgiving greetings to you.




Graceworks Inc.
470 West End Ave. New York, NY 10024
212-724-1541 | info@graceworksinc.com | www.graceworksinc.com
© 2009 - 2011 Graceworks Inc.
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Monday, November 14, 2011

Shepherds Reflect on Psalm 23


Conceived by Pastor Linda Warren, who plays the role of Shoshona, Rich and Pastor Joyce Swingle address their flock as Zelophahad and Pethahiah, shepherds with a perspective on Psalm 23.

 

This service is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

For more sermons by Joyce, click here.

To book Rich and Joyce for a live performance visit RichDrama.com/Booking.

Music at the start of the service is from "Stand Up and Give Him the Praise", from the album Shalom Jerusalem.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Tree of Life

I just experienced a masterpiece. Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life is profound.

Christianity Today has a couple of reviews that you should read before or after the film. Joyce had already seen it and urged me to read them before hand, but I ran out of time. I'm glad I did. It was enough to have her recommendation. If mine is enough, check it out, and then read these articles. Th
I just experienced a masterpiece. Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life is profound.

Christianity Today has a couple of reviews that you should read before or after the film. Joyce had already seen it and urged me to read them before hand, but I ran out of time. I'm glad I did. It was enough to have her recommendation. If mine is enough, check it out, and then read these articles. They'll enhance your experience even more:
Brett McCracken points out that the form of the film is more like a symphony.
Kristen Scharold highlights some of powerful reflections Malick has made on the meaning of life.

Don't go in looking for a traditional narrative. Joyce described the style like seeing life through the eyes of a child. What an appropriate way to look at a journey to faith.
 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Freedom from Fear of the Future

Pastor Joyce Swingle preaches on Revelation 14:1-5.



 This sermon is available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Recent Reports from Both Swingles

On October 23 at Westchester Chapel Rich Swingle reported on recent ministry opportunities in Taiwan, Singapore, Oregon and his recent performance in the film Writers' Block.  For photos from the Swingles outreach in Asia visit SwinglesInAsia2011.Shutterfly.com, and for more stories visit blog.richdrama.com (September and October 2011).



On October 9 at Westchester Chapel Pastor Joyce Swingle reported on recent ministry opportunities the Swingles have had: Performing Five Bells for 9/11 in NYC on 9/11, leading Spiritual Life Week at Morrison Academy in Taiwan, and performing The Acts during Homecoming at Rich's alma mater, George Fox University.

 

 These reports are available for download free on iTunes, where you can also subscribe to our podcast. Search for "Westchester Chapel" on the iTunes Store.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Marvelous Month of MasterWorks!

[To share this page, send people to RichDrama.com/MWF.]



We're constantly amazed by the depth of growth spiritually and artistically that happens at MasterWorks, and this year was no exception!
The schnoz Brandon Langeland used for the title role of our MasterWorks production of Cyrano de Bergerac cast a long shadow.

We produced Cyrano de Bergerac, the story of a swashbuckling hero who won't dare to express his love for Roxane because he believes that his long nose makes him too ugly for her to love in return. Here are my closing statements after the last performance:


The level of professionalism our students brought to it was astonishing. We've been so pleased with the steady artistic growth in the program that next year we're taking our production of Karol Wojtyla's The Jeweler's Shop to New York City.  More on that as details develop.

This year's faculty brought spiritual and artistic insights from several cultural hubs: NYC, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, Melbourne, Virginia Beach and Jackson.

Curt Cloninger, who gave the very first one-man play I'd ever seen, inspiring me to make a 15 year career of it, came from Atlanta to share his play Witnesses for the Festival and community.  It introduces us to people who knew Jesus first hand: They were witnesses of his walk on earth.  Curt has taken his plays around the world and performed them for live audiences as large as 30,000.  The way the play was received by our community gives me hope that he has inspired a new generation to use its gifts for the Kingdom.

LA casting director, Bev Holloway, returned for her fourth straight year.  She's worked on more than 30 projects, including Like Dandelion Dust with Barry Pepper (nominated for the Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards) and Oscar winner Mira Sorvino.  She came fresh from Thailand with stories of casting the upcoming film Trade of Innocents in which Sorvino also performed.

Colin Harbinson, a Brit who makes his home in Jackson, MS, has worked for forty years in the arts, education and missions.  He is the creator of the internationally performed musical Toymaker and Son. He preached to the whole MasterWorks community using the story of Lazarus to talk about the death of a vision, and how the Lord resurrects greater things if we choose not to live in our woundedness. The stories he used as illustrations were profound and moving, as was his time with the theatre company the next day.

Susan Sommerville Brown, was back for her seventh straight season. She shared insights gained from decades of professional work on Broadway and in Chicago. She brought Maria Callas to life in a monologue from Master Class for one of our faculty recitals

New Yorker Patricia Mauceri was also back for her seventh season.  She shared stories of taking master classes with Callas that brought new meaning to Susie's work. As always, she worked with our students to build the spiritual lives of their characters.

This was the Festival's 15th anniversary, and to celebrate, we featured two alumni, who recently earned their masters degrees in Virginia Beach at Regent University: Chad Rasor served as fight choreographer for our play and Brandon Langeland, who played Cyrano, taught improv classes which culminated in what is a highlight of the Festival every year, our Theatre Improv Night, which segued into improvised worship and enacted prayer. We also had a Skype call with a MasterWorks alum, Irene Kao. She stayed up late to speak in our first class of the day. She's studying acting in Melbourne, Australia, at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, where Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe trained.

Just before MasterWorks started this year I took a four-day course on Whole Brain® Thinking. I used some of what I'd learned with our MasterWorks students to help them understand how they and the characters they played think.

I performed Paradise Lost for the festival with MasterWorks faculty members Terry Ewell and Doris DeLoach.  Ewell wrote this new work, based on Milton's epic poem, for the International Double Reed Conference in Tempe, AZ, at which we had just performed. We also performed it in Baltimore, MD, for YouTube.

All our instructors impart not only their expertise and wisdom in acting for stage and film, but they also share their testimonies as followers of Christ. On our final day as a company each student shared his or her purpose statement. We were all sobbing to hear the breakthroughs students had made on many levels throughout the month.

On the final day of the festival the entire community erected a pile of rocks commemorating the decisions we'd made throughout the month.

For information on this summer's program visit RichDrama.com/MWFTheatre2012.

For a report from last year's program, click here.