Resources: Scripts for Production Ministry

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Tell the Story!

Of all the many ways we can obey the multifaced call of Christ given to each of us perhaps the most crucial is this:

Mark 16:15 NKJV
Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

There are so many ways to do this and each method has its own intrinsic value.  For me, a careful observer of life as well as an observer of the Scripture, this method is best described as this:

Tell the Story!

As a music major in college in the spring of 1969 I was cast in a small part of Roger’s and Hammerstein’s Carousel. I was the Heavenly Friend, and it was my task to come wake up Billy Bigelow who had just accidentally killed himself during a robbery attempt.  As my good, and now lifetime friend, Danny Austin lay on a bench trying not to be seen breathing as Julie and Aunt Nettie sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” I was waiting in the wings.  In the summer of 1968, I had received my first ministerial recognition and was deep into my personal if unofficial study of the ministry. I was having in internal conversation with the Lord about the lack of truth in the story we were telling.  “The Heavenly Friend” was supposed to wake Billy up and take him before “The Highest Judge of All.”  There was no hint of the Gospel in this play.  Yet, I heard people crying in the audience, even grown men!  I asked the Lord, “Why are they crying? There is no truth in this!”

The Lord answered me in a way that has shaped my life ever since. It was like He put His hands on shoulders, looked me square in the heart and said, “I’m going to use you to put my truth into this form!” Wow!  In a moment the song was over, and I entered the scene with these words, “Get up, Billy!”

From that moment to this, I have been busy studying those two things:

  1. The Truth, and
  2. The music theatre form of communication.

It was more than 10 years before I could begin to convert my studies into actual productions. In 1980 our newly minted Bethel Arts Ministry company produced “’Specially for Shepherds” at Bethel Assembly of God, Wichita, Kansas. Ralph Carmichael’s wonderful 1977 musical was all music with no narration or dialogue. So, I wrote a script to make it a sure enough musical play.  The director was my life-long friend and colleague Larry Hartley who also played the role of Joseph.  I’ve been at it ever since, using published music properly purchased but using my own scripts.  This has worked for me in all the churches I have served since that first Christmas production:

  • Bethel Arts Ministries, 1980-1984 Bethel Life Center, Wichita, KS
  • Carolina Christian Arts, 1984-1993, First Assembly of God, Winston-Salem, NC,
  • Cathedral Arts Ministries, 1997-2002, Suncoast Cathedral, St. Petersburg, FL, and
  • Capitol Christian Arts, 2002-2007, Word of Life International Church, Springfield, VA.

Now, in my very active retirement I want to make some of these scripts available to the pastors and worship arts leaders who are actively engaged in the Last-Days Renaissance of the Worship Arts including music theatre.

This rebirth of the creativity of the Lord’s anointed artists involves three points of mission:

  1. Tell the Jesus Story,
  2. Sound the Lord’s praises with high-sounding music, and
  3. Reflect the power of the life of the Christ-follower through integral daily living.

In this space I want to present some proven scripts that will help you transform the Christmas and Easter seasons into powerful events that serve both to present gospel and to also draw each member of the company closer to the Lord.  Are you ready for the Renaissance?

Dramatic Forms

The first point of mission the Lord gave me that night was to study the form of music theatre.  Carousel was the perfect piece to introduce me to this form of theatre. It was the follow up to their production of Oklahoma. These two works represent the inaugural pieces of the transition from musical comedy to musical theatre.  What is the difference? Musical comedy was a form of entertainment while musical theatre was a form of art.  With these two pieces proved that a production could present a serious message while at the same time be an entertaining work. The state of the art moved from musical comedy to musical theatre.

At this point, the definition I have used in support of Worship Arts is revealing in its description of the difference between art and entertainment.

With this distinction in mind, we can see that entertainment can be seen as a visible and useful option for the church; the worship arts are a mandate.  We can sometimes entertain in the name of Jesus, but we must tell His story, sound His praises, and reflect His glory through the arts we produce.

This mission has taken these dramatic forms:

  • Dramatic Monologues wherein a Bible character is brought to life with a message for the People of God today,
  • Readers Theatre pieces in which several actors without costumes, scenery, or action “read” the story of an event of significance to the church or the world,
  • One-Act Musical Plays, usually an 30-60 minutes in length a dramatic story unfolds for an observant audience using music that is story-driven not presentational, and
  • Full-length (2 or 3 Act) Musical Plays, usually 90-120 minutes in length a more complex story unfolds before an observant audience.

Many professional Broadway productions in recent years have involved more a musical comedy form wherein the actors perform for the audience. They do this by “breaking the fourth wall,” a term meaning presenting to the audience and not character-to-character.  In my view, the music theatre form is better for the Gospel since they are watching the story unfold and not being played to by the actors.  I have written in all of these musical theatre forms so I will present the works I recommend.

Each of these forms make their own demands on the local church.

  • Dramatic monologues require only one actor at a time.
  • Readers Theatre demands a cast of actor but not sets, costumes, or action. It can also be done with limited rehearsal time.
  • One-Act Plays are fully theatrical with all the elements of the stage but run for an hour or less.
  • Full-Length Plays, are more demanding since all the elements of the stage are required and extended rehearsal time to prepare and present.

The wise worship arts leader can use monologues and readers theatre in the process of building the local company.

Let’s Do Something New!

Since these are original works based on published music, we can also create new scripts with original music.  This approach is much more labor intensive and expensive to produce but I would love to work with you and your company to create something new.

How do we get started?  The use of my scripts begins with a phone call—(863) 512-3671 or an email: DrStevePhifer@gmail.com.

Monologues

Readers Theatre

A One-Act Play

One-Act Play Cycles

 

Full-length Play Cycles

 

Production Resources

Build and Train Your Drama Team These Short Scripts

At Your Service!

(863) 512-3671

Resources: Scripts for Production Ministry

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