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Directing for the Stage

Unable to stay out of the theatre, DIM alumnus Michael Brunk is at it again. This time, he's exploring new horizons working with World Stage Ministries (www.worldstageministries.org) on their production of The Singer .

The play is an allegory of the gospels adapted from the book of the same name by Calvin Miller. Michael shared with us, "This production represents what is in many ways the most complex directing task I've yet singer.jpg - 24129 Bytes tackled. Besides working with a producer, costume designer, music director and technical director, it's been a great opportunity to bring my teaching skills to bear in a theatre setting."

Most of Michael's cast members are high school and college-aged students with little theatre experience. "They've been willing and eager to put in long rehearsal hours learning new skills and polishing them for this very demanding production!" says Michael. "It's very inspiring working with people who are just discovering for the first time a love of drama and its potential for sharing the Message!"

The Singer runs May 9 thru May 11 at the Hazen High School Performing Arts Center in Renton. Tickets are $10 in advance, with group discounts available. Ticketing and showtime information is available at the World Stage Ministries web site, or at Evangel Bookstores in Bellevue or Issaquah, or the Christian Armory Bookstore in the Renton Highlands.

Acting in the Community
Guest Column by Jenn Wright

For my first run in community theater, I had expected everything to be totally different from DIM, and planned to feel under-prepared and extremely intimidated.  But I discovered that really, Redwood Theatre is almost the same, just with a slightly expanded environment.  The cast is larger; the audience is larger; the budget is larger (OK, it’s merely one step up from Guerrilla Theater to, say, Trench Warfare Theater…).  And really, the intimidation only lasts through closing night.

I was also extremely fortunate to be working closely with my husband, as well as with my brother-in-law George, on stage; and I was being directed by close friend Mike –- all long-time DIM members.  I was extremely unfortunate in that I had to attempt my first accent –- a Scottish one, nonetheless –- for the role.  (And when you combine my natural tendency toward delivering my lines too quickly with a thick -- and unpolished -- Scottish accent, you’ve got real trouble!)

All in all, the experience was positive – my fears were quickly relieved by warm and welcoming cast members, and despite rehearsing in a coffee-roasting shop, forgetting my one major prop on opening night, pronouncing the word “six” in such a (Scottish) way that the cast thought I was lecturing on marital relationships, and trying to maneuver among the other twelve people on stage, I learned a lot, and (for the most part) enjoyed the lessons.

1.  Listen to feedback. Use what you can, and let the rest go with no hard feelings.

2.  Sometimes the best laughs during the run come from laughing at yourself. This is supposed to be fun, remember?

Planning for a Melodrama

One of the most popular events that DIM staged was a melodrama produced as a part of the 1998 Normandy Arts Fest.  Written by children's entertainters Gene and Susan Cordova, Black Bart was brisk, entertaining, and HOT!!!

The short play was presented on perhaps the hottest day of the year, and the physical demands of the script combined with heavy Western costuming to absolutely roast the entire cast.  Audiences, however, seated comfortably outdoors in the shade, BlackBart.jpg - 19277 Bytesenjoyed hooting and hucking peanuts at the play's villain.

To promote the play, DIM also made its first appearance in the Des Moines Waterland parade, winning its first award in the event.  Cast members Patty Cram, Jenn Wright and Stefanie Kelly appear in the parade-day photo above left.

This summer, DIM will present another as-yet-unchosen melodrama, and will begin preparations with weekly improvisational exercise workshops the first weekend in June.  Be sure to let Greg or Jenn know if you'd like to be involved!

Launching a New Idea

While in training at Puget Sound Christian College in preparation for the drama ministry, Greg Wright studied the population of artists working within the Community Theatre environment, and discovered a disturbing thing: they tended to avoid church drama like the plague!

To a certain extent, the purposes and structure of DIM were designed to combat the problem.  By training actors and other dramatic artists within the church to perform at high levels of artistic excellence, Greg hoped that stereotypes could broken, and the walls between the church and community might begin to crumble.  Aside from very productive relationships formed by DIM with Raymond Jones, Matt Meaney and James Wilhoit, the goal was not realized.  For the most part, DIM's work did not draw the community into the church -- and neither quality nor publicity were the issues.

For the next year or two, Greg and Jenn will be redirecting much of DIM's energy toward addressing this problem head-on.  Rather than waiting for the community to come to us, we're going to be taking the drama to the community.  Starting this winter, a new theatre company will produce and stage portable productions designed to play in small venues.  Watch for more information about:
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Copyright (c) 2002, 2003  Greg & Jenn Wright