For Children

Joyce and I just ran into a woman from the UK with an adorable child who just couldn't stay awake! It was the fourth time in three days that I wished I had one URL for all the children's projects in which I've performed, so I jotted down this URL before it was created: www.RichDrama.com/ForChildren.

Now it works, but I realized I have a number of Treasure Seeker episodes, and I need to pack for my flight to Ft. Worth tomorrow so I'm ready to teach at the Content 19 Actors Boot Camp! So I'll add the Treasure Seekers episodes later, but for now, you can find most of them at www.WestchesterChapel.org/TreasureSeekers.

I pray they'll keep your child awake! :-)


See the rest of Olympic champion Eric Liddell's Chariots of Fire story in Beyond the Chariots. Watch it online and book a live performance.

Second Chances


I just finished performing in what I think will become my next favorite movie! 


What a joy to work with these young servants of the Lord! 

I love it because it's such a powerful picture of how the Lord can transform a life, even one broken by pain, guilt and loss. No one is beyond the Lord's reach. 



I play a lead in Providence, which you can bring to your area.

Overcomer


My new favorite film is the Kendrick Brothers' Overcomer.

I heard the producer, Stephen Kendrick, speak at the San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival in 2013, its final year. He said that Christian filmmaking was just past its infancy. He said we're going stand on our own two feet. We're going to walk, and then we're going to run. We've seen the Kendricks Brothers' films come a long way over the years, and now they're seriously humming!

Beth Becka serves as their acting coach these days, and she's putting the actors through their paces. She addressed our students at the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp from the set of Overcomer, though at the time she could only tell us it was K6, the Kendricks' sixth film. But she shared generously about her approach...which is Meisner-based...for the actors reading this.

The opening drone shot was profound! Chad Burns who directed me in Beyond the Mask was their director of previsualization, and I'm guessing he conceived it, and he probably had help from Ethan and Ashley Leddin who did special effects. They did the most SFX of any Christian-themed film at the time for Beyond the Mask and just before this they created the screen that changed everything in Unplanned.

Alex Kendrick directed, and he plays John Harrison, a basketball coach on the verge of the season in which his team is going to win it all! The best players for their strongest competition are graduating, and his students are just coming into their strength. Then a local manufacturing plant moves, and so do many of the families of John's players, as do many of the faculty because they see the school is dwindling. So John is asked to step in and coach cross-country, which he doesn't think is a sport... until he runs three miles. The effect three miles has on the three Harrison men is a "running" joke that keeps getting better. The two Harrison boys are definitely not going to join the team, leaving John with one runner: and she's asthmatic.

If that doesn't sound like the makings of your favorite movie, just wait. Overcomer is absolutely outstanding! It had me early on when Cameron Arnett, playing a blind man dying of diabetes and its complications, had his first scene, but his work kept getting richer and deeper! And the Kendricks connect the dots so beautifully! The way they tie identity into the storyline is stunning. In a world that doesn't know what it is anymore, everyone really does need to see this film.

At the New York Media InitiativeShari Rigby shared with us the dramatic story of her getting the role of John's wife, and she showed the human side and the Spirit-filled side of a wife who is there for her family and the Kingdom.

Aryn Wright-Thomas makes her film debut as Hannah Scott. Her IMDb bio says, "Aryn Wright-Thomas is an actress." That's it, but she sure is! Alex and Beth brought out some fine performances from her, as she takes us on several emotional roller coasters. She helps define another important theme in the film: The importance of fatherhood. One of my favorite sermons I ever heard --by John Langlois when he served as the director of pastoral care at the MasterWorks Festival--was on the Father Heart of God. He pointed out that we all have imperfect fathers. They might be absent, delinquent, or abusive, but even if they're great, they're still imperfect. Priscila C. Shirer plays the school principal, and she basically brought the final message of John's sermon to Hannah: God is the perfect Father.

The Kendrick Brothers are used to taking chances on first time actors when the the Lord directs them to do so. I heard Stephen Kendrick speak at the Christian Worldview Film Festival, and he told how Sony wanted to know who would be playing the lead in War Room. They were shocked to hear Priscila C. Shirer had zero acting credits on stage or film. But she's been moving audiences for years as an author and speaker, and she got to bring home the scene that moved me the most.

After reading this review as it was first posted Beth said,
What many do not realize when they see great performances is that most of the work is done in casting well, which Alex certainly did. And while it’s my job to run the actors through their paces in pre-production rehearsals and to encourage them on set, Alex’s excellent direction and the actors’ hard work is where credit is due. Bottom line is, God gets the glory for bringing this incredible cast and crew together for such a time as this.
My favorite film for 35 years was Chariots of Fire. It was the film that inspired me as a cross-country and track runner. If I were still running competitively Overcomer would be my Chariots of Fire. The climax of the film is one of the best cinematic moments I can ever remember. All I'll say is that I heard my coach, Hans Voskes coaching me on when Hannah was in the big race! When Stephen Kendrick spoke in 2013 he mentioned being inspired by Chariots of Fire and wanting to do a sequel. I ran, well, I pushed my way through the crowd to get to him to tell him I was working on a screenplay based on my one-man play Beyond the Chariots. Though Joseph Fiennes beat us both to the finish line on that one, I'm glad Stephen got to do something that moved this Chariots of Fire fan as much--I truly think more--than the original.

After a long applause in the AMC Empire Theatre on Times Square someone--and no, it wasn't me--shouted out Academy Award! Chariots of Fire won four. We live in a very different world today, but I really hope Overcomer gets the recognition it deserves.

I haven't read any secular reviews. I'm sure some of them will say the transformed lives it shows are unrealistic, since they won't be able to knock it on any artistic merits. But for those of us who are intimately acquainted with life transformation, it's spot on.

Click below to watch the trailer, or if you're getting this in an email, visit www.RichDrama.com/Overcomer.




See the rest of Olympic champion Eric Liddell's Chariots of Fire story in Beyond the Chariots. Watch it online and book a live performance.

Praise the Lord for His Wonder

This morning at Westchester Chapel, Joyce mentioned our trip to her hometown of Rhinelander, WI, during my #SevenWeeksOfWonder. My reflection in the service was a memory from the novel Les Misérables from 30 years ago!

These stories were invited by Pastor Randy and Melanie Solomon's very interactive exploration of Psalm 19 and 104. Many members of WCCC shared their testimonies of the wonder of the Lord and his creation. Pastor Randy mentioned The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel, the author of The Case for Christ, which was made into a major motion picture.

From Rich's performance at the
Nordic Black Theatre in Oslo, Norway
Dr. Linda Warren mentioned my upcoming performance of my one-man play about John Woolman who spoke against slavery over a century before the Civil War in America. It will be at Warwick Valley Church of the Nazarene on September 28 at 6pm. She mentions my performance of that play last year in Norway. You can find out more about that at www.RichDrama.com/IDreamedIWasFree

Click the arrow below, or if you're reading this in an email you can click this link, to play the service:



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.




I Dreamed I Was Free tells the story of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman, who spoke against slavery a century before our Civil War.

Seven Weeks of Wonder

I recently returned from seven weeks on the road. It was a mix of teaching, coaching, performing and spending time with family. You can see highlights searching for #SevenWeeksOfWonder on this blogInstagram and Facebook.



See the rest of Olympic champion Eric Liddell's Chariots of Fire story in Beyond the Chariots. Watch it online and book a live performance.

The Ledger and Mine


I got to perform and serve as acting coach on two projects outside Calgary, Canada, over the past two weeks.

The first project was a film competition. On June 30 we were given three elements which had to be included in the film: a key verse (I Samuel 12:14), a prop (a book), and an action (a broken leg). We had a week to write, produce and edit a film. We finished with seven minutes to spare!

I can't wait to share the final product with you, but I must. They'll announce the finalists in August, and if we make the cut we won't be able to share it with the world until after the Way of the Storytellers Conference, January 19, 2020.

I can at least share that we titled it "The Ledger," and I got to play the lead and do a bit of actor coaching. We're all really pleased with how it turned out, and we did a screening for the team and close friends and family, and they seemed to love it, too. There were a number of miracles along the way, which seems to always be the case with Christian filmmaking.

After finishing that project, we moved on to a scripted project, "Mine." I played a key role, and served as acting coach. My character comforts a woman who is struggling with the guilt and loss of having gone through an abortion. My character offers support and hope. It's really a beautiful little piece, and I hope it brings hope to many!

Our team for both of these projects was just phenomenal! I'd love to work with any and all again on future projects!


We finished filming a day early, so we went to Banff. It was my second trip, but I truly hope it's not my last! It's just stunning! 
Some of us went on to Lake Louise to watch the sunset, and that was even better! Click here for more photos.

I play a lead in Providence, which you can bring to your area.

Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp 2019

We had another great group of students at this year's Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers and Actors Camp! I got to coach our acting students in a short piece by Zack Lawrence called "Loneliness," and I really think it will resonate with a lot of people, and prayerfully it will encourage them greatly! I also got to play the role of the lead character's father, so that was fun, too.



We'll open registration for the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp for 2020 in the fall. Sign up at www.RichDrama.com/Updates to get the announcement.

The Perfect Stranger


Last night, after a series of great dinners with great friends, we watched The Perfect Stranger, which is the ultimate great dinner! A cynical lawyer gets an invitation to dinner at her favorite restaurant with Jesus Christ, and He answers all of her questions, quite profoundly. I highly recommend it!

I posted about the dinners and the movie on social media, and almost immediately my friend Katie Lentz commented: Rich! In The Perfect Stranger, Nikki is played by my friend Pamela! You met her when we saw you in Revelation. Cool connection!

I'll say it's a cool connection! I got to thinking about it, and when Pamela saw Revelation she watched my character interact with Jesus. So, my mind kept going on this. I first saw The Perfect Stranger in the Philippines while performing and teaching some workshops at Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary, where I just found out our host for one of our dinners had taught a few years before I was there. The man playing Jesus with my character in Revelation was played by a Filipino.

So I had a little whoah moment, but my brain kept noodling. That cool God wink wouldn't have happened if I hadn't been in Revelation, which happened because I "happened" to be at the only combined gathering of Mastermedia and The Hang that I'm aware of. That was where I shared that I do a 1-man play about The Revelation, and the producers later called to see if I'd perform the role of John in their Off-Broadway musical.

But Pamela wouldn't have seen Revelation the Musical if Katie hadn't invited her, and Katie wouldn't be alive if it weren't for a series of extraordinary miracles after an extreme car wreck (main miracles, follow-up).

I wouldn't have seen The Perfect Stranger in the Philippines if I hadn't met the folks who invited me to perform there while I was in Indiana, and I wouldn't have been there if I hadn't been invited to teach for one week... that turned into 16 years at the MasterWorks Festival. I wouldn't have been invited to teach for that week if I hadn't been a member of Christians in Theatre Arts.

And you wouldn't be reading this if I wasn't pondering it hours before I'd planned on getting up for my last work day before leaving town for seven weeks. I felt like the Lord wanted me to take the time to write this up. Maybe it was for you.

If you don't notice the profound things the Lord is doing all around you, I invite you to have dinner with Jesus.

I write more about that at www.RichDrama.com/MyPassion.



I play a lead in Providence, which you can bring to your area or watch at home.

The Mountain Contest

I'm so pleased with the final edit of "The Mountain Contest!" It's the latest episode on Airship Genesis, and I got to reprise my role as Elijah! 
For about 20 years I've been doing a short play about Elijah called "Prophet of Fear" (www.RichDrama.com/ShortPieces). In 2005 I got to perform it on Mt. Carmel, where the Airship Genesis story also takes place. 

Stay tuned for information on the release of their upcoming mobile game in which I'll reprise another role, John the Baptist: www.RichDrama.com/AirshipGenesis.



I Dreamed I Was Free tells the story of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman, who spoke against slavery a century before our Civil War.

Joshua Faith Challenge

Today is the first day of a Great Experiment, hosted by Christian Union, a campus ministry to the "Ivies," the eight Ivy League universities. You don't have to be a graduate to take part.
One of our commitments is to do a Joshua Faith Challenge, stepping beyond our daily routines to expand the Kingdom of God in a way that is larger than our typical patterns. I've chosen one of their suggestions which is to daily post the Good News that Jesus loves you every day on social media. I'd love to share testimonies from others of how the Lord has changed your life through a relationship with Him. Please post yours below, and I'll share it on my Facebook and Instagram pages.  

I got to speak at Christian Union's Ivy League Congress on Faith and Action a few years ago (www.RichDrama.com/IvyLeague), and it gave me great hope for our future to see 500 of our nation's brightest students from all eight Ivies worshipping the Lord with wild abandon and talking about using their world-class degrees to expand the Lord's Kingdom on earth.  
I'm tagging them on Facebook and Instagram as #RichSwingleJoshuaFaithChallenge. 


There are still openings for the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp this summer, where I'll be teaching acting for film.

John the Baptist in Airship Genesis Mobile Game



That's from the Airship Genesis Mobile Game, and recently I performed the voice of John the Baptist for it.

It was pretty cool, because in 2011 I got to play him baptising Jesus... about 100m from a church dedicated to that event!

The day after I played John the Baptist for the mobile game I was reading through Farm Boy on Times Square, the journal I kept when I first arrived in NYC in 1993, and found this entry:
When John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Christ, he was a voice, crying in the wilderness.  He was for them, a modern-day prophet.  The people related to that image.  It was familiar.  Society in NYC, and in America in general, is so individualistic, that it seems to me personal messages are the only ones received well.
The mobile game is quite fun and challenging! My "scene" is on level 11.


I Dreamed I Was Free tells the story of Quaker abolitionist John Woolman, who spoke against slavery a century before our Civil War.

Interview about Revelation the Musical on The Gate Radio

I recently got to do an interview on The Gate Radio with George Flores, who I've known since the mid-90's. We even made their front page! Here's the direct link to the full page.

Here are links to things we talked about in the interview:
Revelation the Musical
Dustin Ceithamer
Jonathon Blair
www.RichDrama.com/UpdatesNYC
www.RichDrama.com/TheRevelation
Mastermedia.com
TheHang.NYC
Melissa Mollner
If you missed it, there's one more airing Saturday at 7:40 AM.



There are still openings for the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp and the Christian Artist Mentoring Project this summer, where I'll be teaching acting for film (RMCFC) and stage (CAMP).

Revelation the Musical

What a joy it's been to be a part of Revelation the Musical. I'm half-way through my three weeks of this Off-Broadway run which will run through June 9.

I’ve been performing my own one-man play based on The Revelation for almost 20 years, so I’m just delighted to be playing John in this musical production of the last book of the Bible. Its energy and creativity make it feel like it could become the next Godspell.

If you didn't get the discount code I sent to friends in and near New York City, subscribe at www.RichDrama.com/UpdatesNYC, and I'll get it to you.



This one has different clips, and includes me getting pulled into the air by two of my colleagues.





There are still openings for the Rocky Mountain Christian Filmmakers Camp and the Christian Artist Mentoring Project this summer, where I'll be teaching acting for film (RMCFC) and stage (CAMP).

Breakthrough

OPENING NIGHT
It wrecked me again. Maybe even worse the second time because I know I started weeping earlier this time. Since we saw a pre-release screener in March there was a moment when I knew the inciting incident was imminent. My friend Joseph Holmes was sitting next to me, and after the film was over he said at that point he thought maybe he didn't know the story! He and I both met the pastor of John Smith, who's story Breakthrough tells, last fall at the Hollywood Divine International Film Festival. You can read my notes about that encounter below.

There was a New York Times "Critic's Pick" review of Breakthrough on April 15 that speaks to the quality of the filmmaking, but it ends by saying, "its willingness to let the mystery of the young man’s survival linger enhances the film’s power." When I read that I thought maybe it wasn't as clear as I remembered. Watching it again it is quite clear that John's healing is an absolute miracle. The doctors are floored, and the closing quote as the credits roll is from Dr. Kent Sutterer, who was the attending physician when John's pulse returned: "Boy dies. Mom prays. Boy comes back to life."

If you're interested in knowing Who brought him back to life click here.

PRE-RELEASE SCREENER
Joyce and I got to see a pre-release screener of Breakthrough last month, and we both thought it was so powerful! It tells the true story of how John Smith (played by Marcel Ruiz of One Day at a Time) fell through ice, where he wasn't recovered for a full fifteen minutes. His brain was without oxygen for a full hour.

After the show there was a panel discussion with Chrissy Metz (This Is Us), who plays the mother of John, DeVon Franklin (Miracles from Heaven, Heaven Is for Real) producer, and Roxann Dawson (This Is Us) director. They were interviewed by David DiCerto of the host venue, The Sheen Center, and introduced by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Dawson said that Joyce Smith, the real mother, told her, "You got it." Though some elements are fictionalized to raise the stakes in the drama, the basic facts of it are absolutely true. Franklin said, "A documentary is the facts, a movie is the truth." Dawson, who expressed great joy in doing a project with a Christian theme said, "Let's use media in the correct way," meaning in ways that point people to the Lord.

HOLLYWOOD DIVINE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL SNEAK PEEK
In October I got to perform at the Hollywood Divine International Film Festival, where I was up for Best Comedic Performance for "All God's Children." But the real highlight for me was meeting Jason Noble, who was the pastor of John. Jason (played by Topher Grace of Spider-Man 3) was in the room when John's mother walked through the door, just as the doctor (played by Sam Trammel of This Is Us) was ready to declare her son's time of death. She called on the Lord and her son's pulse came back. You can see that much in the moving trailer below, but the rest of the story is just as dramatic! It's one miracle after the next, no matter how little hope they're given by the specialist (Dennis Haysbert of 24).

Jason has written a companion book to the film, Breakthrough to Your Miracle. I haven't read the book yet, but Jason is very excited about it can encourage people through examples healing from the Bible and the present. He talks about the principles of prayer they learned by walking through the miracles that are helping John graduate from high school this spring!

Jason told how he was being interviewed on a show for TBN, and the guy in the greenroom struck up a conversation with them. On their way out, after the interview the guy said, "Do you know who I am?" They just assumed he was there to make sure they had what they needed before and after the interview, but it was Devon Franklin. He told them he wanted their story to be his next film. You can hear Devon's version of that story here:
Christian Movie Made by Major Studio is Full of Miracle Stories: Behind the Scenes of BREAKTHROUGH.

SPOILER ALERT
During the panel discussion in March, Franklin mentioned that John played Ruiz in a 1-on-1 basketball game. Though his actor won, John declared that there will be a rematch! It reminded me of my friend Art Sanborn, who told his medical support team that, though he was a quadriplegic, one day he'd beat them at basketball. After he was healed, he did play basketball against them! To see who won read his book, A Walking Miracle. I was able to tell Franklin about it after the panel, so join me in praying that Art's story will be his next film!

It's now slated for 2,400 screens across America, opening April 17.

Parental warnings: There were a couple of uses of hell as an expletive, and an OMG. Visit www.Dove.org for more details.




See the rest of Olympic champion Eric Liddell's Chariots of Fire story in Beyond the Chariots. Watch it online and book a live performance.