Broadway Blessing

I'll be performing an excerpt from Beyond the Chariots, about Olympic champion Eric Liddell at this year's Broadway Blessing, in anticipation of performances during the Winter Olympics.


Art Invites us to the Promised Land

Dick Ryan of InterVarsity preached at the MasterWorks Festival one Sunday morning. He challenged us to consider our God-given gifts, artistic as well as spiritual. He challenged us to embrace and hone our gifts. He dipped into Exodus 31:1-11, the first time the phrase, "I have filled them with my Spirit," about the artists Bezalel and Oholiab. Also, he had us consider Exodus 28:1-2 describing how a costumer brought his beauty and glory through what the priests wore. He said sometimes when art is right we see a glimpse of Heaven, a sliver of our future. Then he used Exodus 25:1-9 to show how God asked the people to bring what they had: Give me your gifts and I'll show you how to create a place for us to dwell together. Give your gifts to Him, and He'll create a place of beauty where He dwells. He challenged us to give our gifts to God, inviting Him to dwell with us. What we get in return is not rules, but freedom to do all He's called us to do. The golden calf, though beautiful, was dead art. God wants us to have living art that will draw people to the Promised Land.

Joyce's report on MasterWorks

Pastor Linda Warren prayed over Joyce and I this morning: For refreshing from our full schedules at MasterWorks and for upcoming projects, including Polycarp, the film in which I'll be performing on Tuesday, and for the trip we're leading to Russia during the Winter Olympics. Joyce also gave her report from The MasterWorks Festival. Rich's report on MasterWorks can be found here.

Afterward Pastor Linda preaches on Matthew 6:19-24. Bill H. opens.



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Fifteen years of MasterWorks Theatre

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This year marked the fifteenth year of the MasterWorks Festival theatre program, and we celebrated with our second trip to New York City!

Our play, Twelve Angry Jurors, allowed cast members to stay in character every second of the show. We set it in the round so audience members felt like they were right in the jury room.

Patricia Mauceri (Juilliard trained, she's shared the stage and screen with Johnny Depp, James Earl Jones, Christopher Plummer and many others) returned for her ninth consecutive year to co-direct the play. She was also on the directing team for The Cross and the Switchblade, which we saw at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, a Broadway house now run by Times Square Church.

Susan Somerville Brown (CATS on Broadway) returned to our faculty after taking a year off for her family. Her ebullient personality had our whole company bubbling over once again.

Our MasterClass instructors were led by Muse Watson, who has 82 titles in his filmography. He was a regular on NCIS, the number one television show in America, and performed with me in A Christmas Snow, which was why he was kind enough to coach our actors via teleconference. After he was done he said, "I saw more talent in the last 45 minutes than I have in the last month in Hollywood."

Next was Roger Nelson, who performed much of The Confession of St. Patrick during a Sunday morning service. During the faculty recital that night he performed a brief excerpt from The Man from Aldersgate, about John Wesley. Roger was the second person I ever saw perform a one-man play. The first was Curt Cloninger, who was a MasterClass instructor a couple of years ago. I saw Roger perform Aldersgate in Vancouver, BC, at a Christians in Theatre Arts event, and that performance was one of the things that tipped the scales for me deciding to move to NYC. Then, once I'd moved there, Roger performed St. Patrick in NYC and let me shadow him through the prep and teardown process. He answered all my questions and told me what year it was that he became a full-time actor. He inspired me to quit my day job, and now I haven't had a 9-5 since '95, and I've never looked back! It's my prayer that his performances, his clear presentation of the Gospel (one student said all the music that came after his presentation of the Gospel had a deeper meaning for her), and his testimony and MasterClass coaching will inspire a new generation of actors for Christ.

After our performances in Winona Lake, IN, where the Festival takes place, we hit the road for performances in Bethel Park, PA. We warmed up that morning overlooking Pittsburgh.

The morning after arriving in NYC we had breakfast with over a dozen professionals in the media and performing arts, most of whom were members of Mastermedia. Among them were actress Shannon Moore and Faith Reel, Director of Admissions and Outreach for Actors, Models & Talent for Christ. The professionals introduced themselves, and then we opened it up to questions from our students. They spoke mostly about what it's like to live and work as a Christian in this city and industry both known for being tolerant of everything but Christianity. My sense was that the professionals came away as encouraged as the students, hearing story after story of God working in the lives and careers of those who put Him first.

That night we put together a unique evening of entertainment. Our students opened with some comedy improv, followed by Jeannie Ortega, a singer who used to open for Rihanna. Jeannie wove her testimony into a beautiful concert, and after she was finished our students did an enacted praise and prayer for how the Lord worked in her life and will continue to work through her to bless many. After a brief intermission Broadway performer Stephen Trafton performed the Book of Philippians. The way he set it up and delivered it was masterful. Afterward we did an enacted prayer showing the Lord how we'd like him to continue to use Stephen's gifts and the letter from two millennia ago to impact the world today.

You can hear our reports about MasterWorks at our home church, Westchester Chapel, below:



Here's what some of our students said about the program this year:

I must say MasterWorks was so amazing and life changing. I gained awesome new friends, grew in my acting, learned a ton, got to perform Off-Broadway in the city I've always wanted to go to, and most importantly I grew closer to God in ways I never imagined. Definitely the best four weeks of my life so far.--Christina Doerr Lafayette, IN 
When I was going to come to MasterWorks, I was expecting either very strong Christians, or fabulous actors. I never expected to receive both!--Cody Arn Bryan, TX
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, Academy of Art University's School of Acting, Stella Adler Studio (where another alumna teaches), Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the list keeps growing.

I’m thrilled that we’ll be heading back to New York next summer!

Watch MasterWorksFestival.org/theatre.html to see when applications can be accepted, and sign up for updates at RichDrama.com/Updates. Posters are already printed, so order yours today: MasterWorksFestival.org.

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




Polycarp




I'm thrilled to have played the role of a slave auctioneer in the film Polycarp: Destroyer of Gods. It follows the story of Polycarp, who ministered alongside the Apostle John, who's story I tell in my one-man play The Revelation. I'm actually thrilled to play someone involved in the slave trade, because I pray it will bring greater awareness of the realities of the modern human trafficking. Another of my one-man plays tells the story of John Woolman, a Quaker who spoke against slavery a century before the Civil War: A Clear Leading.

The film's world premiere was February 20, 2015, at the Creation Museum. It's now available to be screened in churches. Click here to register to show it at your church. And you can now find it in Christian bookstores nationwide and can order it online at www.HenlineProductions.com.

ChristianCinema.com posted a thoughtful review of the film: Polycarp: Exposing the Vanity of Fear.

The Cincinnati Enquirer ran a great article on the Henlines and how Joe and Jerica, and later this film, came to be: "Local pair produce award-winning feature film."

The film received the "Family-Approved" and "Faith-Friendly" seals from The Dove Foundation. You can read their review here: Polycarp.

Polycarp won the Best Feature, Audience Choice, Best Original Music Score, and Runner Up for Best Gospel Presentation at the 2015 Christian Worldview Film Festival. At the International Christian Film Festival Gary Nation won Best Actor in a Feature Film for his portrayal of Polycarp.

Mary Smit (Mom's Night Out, Princess Cut, Courageous, Fireproof, Facing the Giants) is treating Rich Swingle's teeth.
Photo by Courtney Vetter, © Copyright 2013, Henline Productions, used by permission.



Here's Indy Christian Review's take on the film. I got to reprise the role of the slave trader in the opening sequence, filmed at The Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp. Read why that was so great for our students here.



Treasure in Heaven or Treasure on Earth

Pastor Jim Warren preached on Matthew 6:19-24. Rich Swingle brought the MasterWorks theatre department to the service after they closed Twelve Angry Jurors in an Off-Broadway theatre: MasterWorksFestival.org/NYC. They all sang in the service, led by Robyn Haley. Josh Knox performed excerpts from Freud's Last Session with Rich. The piece shows an imaginary conversation between CS Lewis and Sigmund Freud. After their performance (not included in the recording due to copyright restrictions) Rich talks about how he and Josh performed it the night before for one of Rich's grad school professors who had CS Lewis as his advisor at Oxford. He met with Lewis for an hour every week.



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.

WCCC Worship 7/14/13 by RichS on Grooveshark
Grooveshark is a third party source. If you listen on their website you will encounter advertisements, none of which are vetted or endorsed by Westchester Chapel. If there are ads that you find offensive we encourage you to click the "Report Ad" link below the ad. Photo courtesy of NicolettiPhoto.com.
Watch Joyce and I play the parents of nine...

We closed in Winona Lake

I wept at our curtain call of Twelve Angry Jurors because our cast did such a great job! Now we're heading to Bethel Park, PA, where we'll perform tomorrow night. Then we're off to NYC for performances in an Off-Broadway theatre: www.RichDrama.com/Schedule. If you're anywhere close you shouldn't miss them! Our MasterClass instructor Muse Watson (NCIS) said, after coaching our students, "I've seen more talent in the last 45 minutes than I've seen in Hollywood in the last month."

Sochi



We took a team of performing artists to Sochi, Russia, during the Winter Olympics!

Watch our performance and read about why we chose the piece at www.WhoistheFish.com.

You can see more photos here.

Here's a report the organizers sent out...


Engage Sochi partners and friends -
We have just finished working through all of the contact sheets for the Engage Sochi project and have been crunching the numbers. As you know, it was our goal that Engage Sochi would be primarily about church planting, specifically in the host city of Sochi. And, the goal of this phase of the project was to generate new contacts so that IMB church planters in Sochi could follow-up and host events that will draw these new people into English Clubs, Bible studies, etc. While statistics do not always paint a complete picture, I think that you can see that the goal was achieved.
Through February and March we hosted approximately 230 volunteers,
14 IMB personnel, and 2 MKs. We estimate that the combined group distributed between 17,000-17,500 evangelism pins.
During the Olympic period, we saw 5 people make professions of faith!
The group recorded approximately 400 individual contacts, some of which did not contain enough information for church planters to be able to make follow-up contact, so 371 contacts.Of those contacts, 94 percent of the people came from Russia. Of that 94-percent, 47-percent (164 people) were from Sochi; 33-percent (115 people) were from European Russia. Siberia and the Far East each had 3-percent of the contacts. And 14-percent (50 people) gave contact information but did not include from which city the contact came.
Six-percent of the contacts came from countries outside of Russia and included: Kazakstan, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Australia, Latvia, England, Spain, France, Turkey, Canada, and Japan.
Kellye reports "Every one of these folks was interested in being contacted, especially about English clubs. But reading the stories was a holy experience, as time and time again, people were interested in how God is at work in the lives of His people. I have cried some tears of real joy. To God be the glory--great things He has done!!"
Thanks to each of you for the role you played in making this project possible. It has been exciting to see God’s hand at work through this entire project and know that there is much more fruit that will come to bear as a result of the Engage Sochi project.
This article tells some of our most exciting stories: Ukrainian-American finds open doors to share at Sochi Games.


Between the two of us, Joyce and I have been to Lillehammer, Barcelona, Beijing, Vancouver, Singapore, London, and now Sochi during the Olympics or Youth Olympics. In London we counted people from 30 nations from all inhabited continents that we spoke to after my performances in those cities.