Saturday, June 27, 2009

People of the Spirit

Our church has been running a series on the subject, People of the Spirit, in which each Sunday sermon relates to the Holy Spirit, and there are also various other evenings and such where that's also the focus during this period. Along with the sermons, we've been doing a series of short 'dramas' - mostly about 8 to 10 minutes long. These have related to the topic, but unusually for us, have used the same set of characters played by the same actors each time. They've appeared about once a fortnight, and the characters have developed in each episode.

The first drama was written prior to the series starting, but from then on they've been written on the fly, as it were - being prepared partly in relation to the sermons and partly in relation to how people have responded to them, and partly in relation to how the actors feel their characters are moving forward. Or how the other actors feel someone else's character is moving forward, as happened this time around.

This particular drama has had the shortest turn-around time of them all, being conceived, for the most part the Thursday before last, written by the Saturday, and first rehearsed last Wednesday, when everyone pretty much knew their lines. Scary for me, but in fact I discovered a new kind of confidence in regard to learning my lines that quickly - must be because of the role I played in When We Are Married a few weeks ago, when I had to get a larger number of lines under my belt than usual, and managed without undue stress.

Each of the actors plays someone fairly similar to their real life selves, and there's a kind of understanding from the audience that the character has some of the attributes of the actor as well as not being the actor. The first play consisted of four soliloquies from each of the four main actors (two more have been added in subsequently), and I thought I would come across as a serious character; in fact the audience/congregation laughed at my first line, and continued to do so regularly throughout my speech.

Consequently we've taken that sort of thing on board, and my character, though he remains the person he was at the beginning, has been given lines that are intended to get laughs, and this has worked effectively. On the other hand, the actor playing the kind of even-tempered character (who's a fairly equable fellow himself) got the opportunity to turn around this time, and is angry for most of the play; something he rarely is in real life, and something his character seemed unlikely to be at the beginning.

It's been an interesting experiment doing things on the run, as it were, but a good experience - and it's nice to be able to spend time with a group of actors that's extended over a much longer period than usual.

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