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Fifteen MasterWorks Festival students now have their first Off-Broadway credit!
|Performing Off-Broadway in|
We were encouraged in our choice of the play, which--as the title suggests--revolves around a jeweler’s shop. Being Polish, the pope set that shop on Krakow’s market square. One of the orchestral faculty at the Festival connected with one of our theatre faculty and one of our students at the South Bend Airport as they were all arriving. The French horn instructor told them how she had just picked out wedding rings for her fiancé and herself at a jeweler’s shop on Krakow’s market square. You can see a readers’ theatre performance that tells the story here:
Because the play called for about half of the number of students we usually have in the theatre program, we cast two students for each of the main roles. We used the setup for a very unique exercise: All the students were on stage for each performance, and a number of times they had no idea whether they would perform the role for which they’d prepared or remain a part of the “wall of humanity” watching the drama unfold and leaping into smaller roles as required. The instant before the play was about to begin I would walk up to the two gentleman who had prepared to play the role of Adam, the narrator of the story, and I would hand one of them a note telling him who was playing all of the roles. He would give the others their assignments during the context of the play, so that they, too, wouldn’t know which part they’d play until the audience saw them cast in that role by Adam. Some of the students were terrified by this approach, but all of them overcame their fears and gave professional-level performances. Because they performed with different actors throughout the month they really had to listen to each other in each moment, and it brought a new level of awareness, concentration, flexibility and connection to their fellow actors.
|The MasterWorks students|
were so talented! I wish I
wouldn't have come alone.
Next year I'll invite lots of
New York City
In all we had a dozen performances: four in Winona Lake, where the main Festival takes place, two near Pittsburgh and six in and near New York City. It was remarkable for the students to get so many performance opportunities because in theatre one of the best teachers is the audience.
One of our students gave me permission to share a very special story: During the first week of the Festival she asked me if she could be the one to share after our performances and invite the audience to give to the Festival. After hearing her story I heartily agreed! She didn’t have any money to attend the program, but received a half-scholarship. Then, when it looked like she’d have to walk away from that scholarship, her university provided a scholarship for the other half! After our final performance she went on to share how we had done an enacted prayer for her friend. She had shared earlier in the Festival how this friend was in a coma. My wife Joyce, the Festival’s Director of Spiritual Care, led a week of devotions with our theatre students. After one of Joyce’s devotions the student said she was afraid that her friend would not survive the coma. We did an enacted prayer, something we do every year on the second Wednesday after an hour of comedy improv. Typically someone portrays the person giving the prayer request so that they can watch it with perspective, but we were having a difficult time finding a young woman to step into her role. One of the women I asked told me that she sensed that the Lord wanted the young woman to portray herself. We followed that impulse. I played a part of the Trinity, and we immediately circled the young woman and comforted her. Then we circled around a young man on the floor who portrayed the young woman’s friend. We “breathed” into him and lifted him to his feet. We led him over to the young woman, and he hugged her. Then we, as the Trinity, circled the two of them with a heavenly hug.
We’ve been pleased to watch our students get into well-respected acting programs like the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, Biola University, Regent University, Belhaven University, Gordon College, Azusa Pacific University, University of Southern California, the American Shakespeare Center, Media Village in South Africa, Melbourne’s National Institute of Dramatic Arts, and the list keeps growing.