Today was a full day of practices. Some cast members were up there for more than 6 hours straight. Others had to be up there in the morning for two hours and then come back in the afternoon for another two hour stretch. The directors and other leaders were there for most of the day. It's days like this that can really try your patience and drain your energy. Still each group worked through to accomplish the goal: to get better at getting it right. Today I'll recap two scenes. One is new and the other is a familiar one with a new twist.
The temple scene is one of the most tense. Everything seems to be normal. Just another normal Sabbath Day. However, today will be different than any before it. Jesus sees the defiling of the temple with money changing hands and people selling their wares within the sacred grounds. Christ tears up the iniquitous scene. Tables get tossed. Fruit and pots go flying. All the while, we as Apostles are both shocked and afraid. The priests are in the temple and looking for any reason to turn the people against Jesus. Romans are also present everywhere within Jerusalem. One false step and we could end up in jail or worse, and Jesus decides to cause a huge public disturbance.
One of the major differences this year in the Temple is that Jesus will interact with children and a miracle will take place. I won't say which one here, but it causes the scene to shift in tone dramatically. This scene goes from a regular calm moment to a chaotic and violent display into a hopeful uplifting finish. As Apostles we've been in these tonal shifts already in our practices. However, for many of the other cast, this isn't the case. It's an interesting dynamic working and interacting with other cast members and seeing them transform from their normal day to afraid or angry and then shocked and amazed. We're all trying to capture what it was like on that Sabbath Day. Today, we got a good start at portraying it.
This year, there will be a flashback scene that takes us to an earlier place in Christ's ministry. In this scene, Christ will heal several people. I won't spoil what miracles will take place, but some of the most iconic miracles that were portrayed in Messiah will be portrayed here as well. These miracles will have their own style compared to Messiah, but the spirit of their inclusion remains the same: Christ healed people then and He can still heal people today. It doesn't matter the situation or circumstance. God can overcome it.
This scene will take place all over the sanctuary, so it is a different dynamic compared to being positioned primarily on the stage. It will call for us to especially be on point with our expressions and reactions as we will be up close and personal with the audience. If we are bringing that real feel with us, the audience will be drawn into Above All more than any other scene. So far, we seem to be on track.
Helping Your Brother
Today, I spent a lot of time working with John Baker. He plays Bartholomew and this is his first year with the Apostles. John played a Roman a couple of years back so this is a completely different experience. The Romans are trained to portray either indifference or animosity towards Christ and His followers. Now, John is portraying someone he was previously tasked with despising. It's not an easy transition. However, today John really broke through with his portrayal.
He hung around me and mirrored a lot of my movements while also putting his own natural reactions into the scene. For the Temple Cleansing, I told him to imagine one of his best friends suddenly going wild. He and I both come from backgrounds where we've had friends that used to start fights out of nowhere. While that's not what Jesus is doing in this scene, having that idea in his mind helped him with how he would react. Just get out the way at first and then try to stop him before he tears the place up too much.
In the miracle scene, he told me he didn't know how to act. How was he supposed to react when somebody got healed? So I walked him through the process. What if he had seen someone in a church service get healed? This is actually easy because people get healed and miracles happen at POA on a nearly weekly basis. So I told him to just be John Baker in this scene watching one of those miracles. He immediately got into the scene and was invested completely through the whole practice. In one long day, a guy who was having trouble getting settled in his role found his niche and bought in completely.
In Above All, we have a lot of directors and guides to help us with our position and character. However, its the interaction that we as a cast have with each other that really gets everyone to buy in. When someone who is in the scene with you takes time and invests in helping you with getting into character, that shows that you're a part of more than just a cast. You're a part of a bonded group. That bonded group is getting closer and stronger with every practice. By the time Above All comes around, our unity and strength will be on full display and the miraculous will happen more than just on stage. It'll be happening in the lives of every person who walks through those doors as attendees. I can't wait to get there!
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.