The Marvelous Month of MasterWorks!

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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

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


Irene said...

New York! New York! Theatre in New York! xD

Irene said...

Just listened to your closing statements after Cyrano de Bergerac. *Weeps*... Thank you for emanating with heart and character of Christ at all times...

Rich Swingle said...

Thanks, Irene, for your comments, and for Skyping us with such profound wisdom!