The first Above All practice for Apostles is in the books. We went through the Last Supper Scene and it was awesome. Today, I recap the experience of performing the Last Supper and all of what goes into preparing for this powerful scene.
An hour before our practice began, all of the Apostles and Jesus (played by Troy Toney) met to fellowship, connect and pray. Though most of us have known each other for a while, getting comfortable with each other in costume is a big deal and just hanging out in our robes allowed that. One of the best things about being an apostle, though, is that each of the men in this group our prayerful students of God's Word. Our natural conversation gave way to talking about preparing ourselves spiritually and seeing what the sacrifice we are embarking on will bring. The actual conversation we had is personal and meant just for our group, but I can tell you that we are a unified group ready to do God's Will and overcome all the devil might throw at us in the coming weeks. We closed that meeting out with prayer and felt the Spirit move on each of us as the Comforter entered the room. Now. , onto the actual scene and what it entails.
Simple Setup, Complex Scene
It might seem like a simple thing to do. You're just sitting their eating, drinking and talking with guys you've known for a long time. We do that all the time in real life. However, this is no ordinary meal. We are portraying the followers of Christ in one of their last intimate moments with Him. Christ has upset the balance of things by cleansing the Temple and we are nervous and wondering what to expect next from the Master.
Suddenly, Jesus gets down and starts to wash each of our feet. This is completely out of order. It is us who should be washing his feet! Yet, he explains that this is necessary. He shows how to be servants by being a servant to us. Christ then goes on to say very unsettling things. He talks about suffering, betrayal and death. How can this be? We have a multitude of followers waiting to act on his command. He cannot die.
He mixes the melancholy talk with promises of love and peace when he leaves us. Even though he must go away, he will return and bring us to the Kingdom that is to come. The weird mixture of uplifting ideas with sobering projections makes for an awkward and up and down evening. It's up to us to properly convey the emotions brought on by such varying statements so the viewer can feel what's going on and take Christ's words to heart. If we're smiling in a serious statement from Christ, then the gravity of that statement is at risk of not hitting home with the audience.
Think of it in terms of this poor analogy: You are at Thanksgiving Dinner and one of your family members makes a shocking statement that nobody was prepared for. The reactions are going to be wide ranging and emotions will go through the roof and the floor all at once. That's what we are hoping to capture with the Last Supper. Each of us will react slightly differently, but all of us must be on the same page of shock and awe when these profound and unsettling statements are made.
How We ReAct Matters
Most of us don't have lines in this scene, but are reactions and responses tell a story that words cannot convey. We have to look natural in how we interact with each other so must of us are trying to have casual conversation. To keep it grounded in the play, we talk to each other about what we think the disciples would be saying. I play Matthew and I was sitting next to Simon the Zealot (played by Jason Covey). He talked with me about how he still has trouble with anger and disdain for the Romans and I talk about my guilt of robbing people as a tax collector. We even talk about how we would have been enemies had it not been for Jesus. This allows us to really be there in that room nearly 2000 years ago.
Specific Direction for Specific Moments
Obviously, with first practices there are hiccups. We had to start and stop at least 3 times because one or all of us weren't quite doing what our director felt was needed in that moment. That's what makes Above All so great. It's not just a scene at the Last Supper. It's multiple moments. The initial meal, the washing of feet, Jesus talking to us about being servants, Christ claiming that he would suffer and face betrayal, the communion and the aftermath of Judas leaving. These are all moments that require different and complex reactions from each of us. We're trying our best in the short window we have to deliver the best representation of one of the most solemn moments in the Bible.
Small Space Brings It All Out
This all occurs within the confines of a dinner table. There's not a lot of glamor or big set pieces here. We don't have the distraction of the multitude to hide our deficiencies. We have to bring everything we've got to that table to convey the importance and power of that scene. Jesus (played by Troy Toney) has to deliver the utterances that can convict the hearts of many, but we have to reveal how those utterances can affect someone with an open heart. This is a make or break scene as it sets the table for Christ's crucifixion. After this, Christ speaks very little. They are either going to buy into Him or just look at His sacrifice as another performance. It's why we take our role in this scene very seriously.
We closed out our practice with how we began it, challenging each other to pursue God through this whole process and praying over each other for God's protection, guidance and favor. Walking from that 2+hour practice/prayer meeting, I knew that I was ready to take on the task of Above All again. Even better, I knew my fellow Apostles were, too! Are you?
For further reading on the Last Supper check out Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-39, and John 13:1-17:26. The last link goes into the greatest detail and provides intimate insights into the nature of our relationship with Christ. We've been studying these scriptures to prepare ourselves for this production, but they've also affected our personal relationship with God. We hope that it does the same for you.
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.