MasterWits 2014

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We had another stellar MasterWorks Theatre Program, this year producing Much Ado About Nothing in Winona Lake, IN, Bethel Park, PA, and NYC in Theatre 315, an Off-Broadway space pictured above. Susan Somerville Brown choreographed a dance number in our production, and Patricia Mauceri co-directed with me and met with students to talk about the spiritual lives of their characters.

Katie Leigh, who plays Connie Kendall in Adventures in Odyssey, coached our students for voice over work. In this photo she's playing Connie with our students in an Odyssey episode.

Katie and Torry Martin, a writer and performer for Adventures in Odyssey, joined our students performing during our annual Improv Night. Torry preceded the comedy with a very funny talk entitled "Discovering Your Calling/Finding Your Gift." Faculty and students made reference to that talk numerous times throughout the rest of the Festival. In this shot, Torry and student Esh Ryans are laying down a commercial. Torry, who's performed in numerous films, said that he'll recommend Esh to play his son if such roles come his way.

We had a great MasterClass with Bobbie Merritt, a NYC manager, and Laura Bergquist, a Broadway music director. They had such encouraging things to say about our students, confirming what we already knew: The quality of our students keeps rising year after year! Bobbie wrote, "It was a true blessing to be with the kids! They encouraged and edified me and gave me real hope for the future! I truly believe it IS in their hands! And from that group, I am so hopeful that the LORD's name will be high and lifted up, and that there will be revival in the land! (2 Chron. 7:14) Hallelujah! Let the Believers say AMEN and AMEN!"

We also had a breakfast panel with Mastermedia, which included some outstanding influencers in media, including a former writer for Saturday Night Live, a NYC actor/director, a newscaster, the founder of a NYC networking group for Christian actors, a NYC actor/director, and former MasterClass instructor John Forbes, who has produced Off-Broadway and performed and directed around the world.

Ann Van Hine, whose late husband Bruce is one of the characters in my one-man play Five Bells for 9/11, pointed our students toward the source of her Hope and Peace, just before flying to Japan to minister to families of victims of 3/11, which marks the devastating tsunami and earthquake that destroyed much of their island nation.

In the midst of Ann's tour of the 9/11 Memorial Christina Doerr performed a monologue about Hope in the wake of 9/11.

Our students shared their purpose statements as a part of our closing sessions. They were challenged to make observations about how elements of the program will help them in the future. Our MasterWorks instructors were mentioned and quoted, including John and Paula Kasica (both their devotions with theatre and John's campus-wide talk on the orphan spirit and the Father Heart of God), and my bride Joyce, who serves as pastoral care director. 

They also mentioned appreciation for the focus on prayer and keeping the Lord central, lunchtime faculty devotions and worship. 

Here are some quotes: "Expectations were exceeded." "We meet God through fellowship." "That (reconciliation) wouldn't have happened if I hadn't come to MasterWorks." "God's love became overwhelming." "You only have to be loved by God, and I didn't know that until I was here." "It's taught me to trust and be vulnerable." "I've never felt so loved in my life." "I thought you could be an artist or be a Christian. Now I know a revival in the arts world is coming because you guys are going to be in it." "It's made me want to start every day with worship and go deeper in the Word." "The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you."

When the exit questionnaires came back they had even more great things to say. I've posted the highlights below.

A theatre program alum said, ""Much Ado About Nothing" was absolutely outstanding! I was very impressed with all that you guys put into it. Every single character was real and well-developed. There were so many really great moments in it!"

One of our student's parents said of the play, "what a great performance last evening! Seamless, fun, dramatic, touching, faith-building."

Patricia Mauceri said, "Oh, how powerfully the Lord is moving at MWF. He is stirring hearts and refining gifts, deepening our understanding of what creative arts look like from a heavenly perspective!! This has been a truly amazing 2014 MWF!!"

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, Sight and Sound Theatres Conservatory, Stella Adler Studio (where another alumna teaches), Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and the list keeps growing. 

We also send out casting calls to Christian films and have seen our students performing speaking roles in feature films such as In His Steps, Christmas Grace, For the Glory, Polycarp, Confessions of a Prodigal Son and Mayflower II.

We're already approved to perform in PA and NYC again next year, so start spreading the word!

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

Soon taking applications for the MasterWorks Festival theatre program: Training and performances in IN, PA and NYC, including an Off-Broadway theatre!

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