This weekend Jesus, the Apostles and select cast members hit the road to take Above All to Pearland, Texas. It was a rewarding experience, but not one without challenges. Lots of traveling, adjusted practices and staging, and the overwhelming opportunity to share God’s work with a new audience all hung heavy around our necks. Each of us had to do our job uniquely, precisely and passionately. Otherwise, this great sacrifice would be a waste of time. Here’s a run through of the events leading up to the event itself. I’ll post about the actual event in a later post.
First, we had two scenes to practice at POA before we hit the road. Our practice was scheduled from 10AM to noon and dealt with the Temple Cleansing and the Miracles scene. I won’t go into much detail recapping the scenes since we’ve already covered them in previous posts. What I will say is it was hard to get into character with the foreknowledge that we were going on the road afterward. We did our best to portray each scene correctly, but a nervous energy had taken hold. We were pumped for this trip. Needless to say, Brother Keith Skluzacek had to reel us back in a couple of times. He does a great job in directing us, having the right amount of humor and seriousness to keep the mood balanced.
After two hours of practices, we loaded our things up and hit the road to Houston. Typically, a two hour practice is a regular day in these preliminary practice days. Now, we add in a 4 plus hour van ride to the itinerary. This is where a group’s unity gets tested. A group lacking unity would collapse into arguments or awkward silence. The personalities clash and a simple road trip becomes a deal breaker. That was not the case for our group. Guys were telling funny stories of past performances and sharing thoughts about our journey so far. Guys opened up about past struggles and future hopes. It really is a brotherhood to be a part of this group. In an event like this, where we have to travel and stay in tight knit quarters, we strengthen that bond that will come through so real on the stage.
Once we got to the church, we discovered that the three scenes we were going to do needed to be completely restaged. Johnathan Dean and Brother Keith went to work immediately and had us lined out and ready to run through each scene within 30 minutes of being there. Having directors and producers that can work together on the fly to come up with creative solutions makes it so easy for us when we get out there. We practiced from 5 until 8. That's another 3 hours of practices after 4 hours of driving. To say this was a physically exhausting day is generous to the word exhausting. We were drained. But the reward was so great. One of our brothers who plays Thomas (his real name is Richard Linder), was overwhelmed by the presence of God after the Last Supper scene. We all surrounded him and prayed as he wept and felt God's peace wash over him. It's moments like that, where we are huddled in prayer around a brother in need, where that bond I mentioned earlier comes through so amazingly.
Another unsung hero that came on our trip is Blake Powell. He is one of the head prop guys for Above All. You won’t see his face center stage during the drama, but he and his team make it so we are prepared and ready to go as soon as we hit the stage and the lights come up. This weekend, he had to train a new team in less than a day. The Pearland church volunteered a few guys. It was up to Blake to get those guys ready to get one of the more difficult set pieces in place: the Last Supper set. All the cups, the food, the benches and the massive table all have to be up and ready by the time we get out and the lights come up. To get those people prepared in less than 24 hours is a monumental task. Blake came through in the clutch during practices and when the scenes were live on Sunday.
After practice on Saturday night, we all went out to a restaurant and sat around a massive table. Nearly 40 people who had made the trek ate and laughed on the eve of a great first: We would bring the anointing that has permeated Above All to another church. It had not been done in the era of Messiah. It had not been done in the first 3 years. Here in year 4, we would be blazing a new trail. How would it go? Find out in our next post, hopefully tomorrow.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.