Running with Questions

Ben,

Acacia Theatre Company has really interested me and impressed me, from what I found online. My name is Aubree Gevara,* I’m a homeschooled 18 years old and my passion is for excellence in Christian theater. I’m contacting you because I believe you exhibit aspiring characteristics and qualities. For my duel credit college final project in my Theater Appreciation Course I’m interviewing people involved with Christian theater. I would be extremely appreciative if you would take some time to answer a few questions below. Feel free to answer whatever you can even a few answers are helpful! God bless!

Aubree,

Thanks for contacting Acacia. You are correct in stating that I exhibit aspiring characteristics and qualities. My characteristics and qualities are wannabes and posers. Also you must invite me the next time your credits duel. Do they just throw their weight around? I can’t imagine them using weapons. How does either win? It all sounds very thrilling.

I am happy to answer your questions, but know that my opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of Acacia Theatre Company. If that statement concerns you, remember it is also displayed before every episode of “The 700 Club.” Except for the “Acacia Theatre Company” part, of course. If Acacia owned “The 700 Club” it would have taken me longer to respond because we would be receiving donations all the time, like Goodwill, if Goodwill got boxes of money. And people would donate other things, too, like an advent calendar keyboard. Beneath each key would be a chocolate. It would have to be like a 3 month advent. And the keys would have to be labeled normally so you could still type. It’s not a good idea but it’s an idea that makes me feel good, probably because I’m typing and hungry and tired and Christmas is a comin’ and the egg is in the nog.**

What plays have you been involved with and in what role did you help? (director, actor, stage) Please state if they were Christian or secular.

Let’s get etymological. The word secular is from Latin – that virile patriarch who seems to have contributed DNA to every word born – specifically, the root saecularis, meaning “of a generation,” which our generation can learn from reading Wikipedia, as I did, although I am not in your generation, Aubree, since I am 30 and therefore dead by most accounts in youth culture.

Regardless, the essential purpose of the word secular is to describe activities removed from organized religion, from eating to bathing to working to playing in a Mariachi band. Yet these activities can still be, and often are, blessed by God. Applying this understanding to our lives makes everything so messy, and in our country, where 99.9% disinfecting hand sanitizer is ubiquitous, that’s upsetting, so I will try to answer as cleanly as possible.

I’ve spent a lot of time in theaters, beginning in 7th grade as Friedrich in The Sound of Music, to writing and producing my own play, Work in Progress, to assistant stage managing a show off-off-Broadway, to costarring in a controversial production of Oleanna. Most of my work has been in Christian schools or theatre companies, with some exceptions.

What is your background and training? Was it Christian or secular? What are your opinions about Christians training in secular theater? 

After giving Wisconsin Lutheran College the old college try for two years, I transferred to a secular film school – although its President was a Christian, just to stuff your noodle – where I graduated with an Associate’s Degree in film production, which basically qualifies you to get coffee for people. I did this for awhile, before being promoted to getting food for people, which I did for awhile, before being promoted to getting the phone for people, which I did for awhile, until I realized that I wasn’t getting anywhere. Actually I had a nervous breakdown and couldn’t get up. I had to “get to gettin’,” to quote Nat King Cole, and God only knows how I got here.

As for Christians training in secular theatre, I sense that is a personal choice everyone must make. Personally, the secular theatre is a giant salt block and I am a deer – I can’t hold my licker and I’m still thirsty afterwards. Deers pant for water. I know that the plural for deer is the same as the single, Aubree, but it’s more fun to say deers. Even more fun if you were a jeweler to the animals, because then there is the possibility of one day saying, “I’ve got De Beers for the deers.”

To reference the Bible again, only with proper pluralization and context this time, “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” There are so few workers with the requisite faith, talent and skill who will get down on the funny farm of secular theatre and harvest some lost souls!! I’m sorry, Aubree, that was a little Pentecostal. And metaphorical. God is the only one who can harvest souls. But he can use workers.

However one decides to be trained, what is certain to me is that you can’t follow God outside of a community of followers. You need the collective encouragement and discernment and smack upside the head – although maybe the collective shouldn’t administer the smack upside the head as that would be a lot of head trauma. The smacking upside the head should be delegated to an individual from the collective.

Have you personally ever compromised your convictions to participate or glean training in a secular forum? If so how has that affected you as you train your students or others?

To the first question, the answer must be yes, but I can’t think of a situation. Our memory is always protecting our self-image.

What is your advice to Christian college students as they pursue theater? What pitfalls could you warn students to avoid? 

I believe it was David Mamet who said something like, “if you want to do theatre, do theatre.” In my opinion, that’s the best advice. Don’t wait for a director or producer or company to discover you, go out and discover yourself. Write something, produce something, act in something. Do the Mickey Rooney Judy Garland thing and put on a show. It does help to know somebody with a barn.

Did your convictions change about what you felt you were able to participate in the more you advanced in Christian theater? 

No? Yes? It seems strange to classify it as a change in convictions; it’s more like an expanding perception. God is bigger than the Boogieman, or that mass of plastic garbage the size of Texas floating in the Pacific ocean, or politics, or culture. He is this really Big Love – no reference to polygamy intended, although we’re all supposed to be the bride of Christ so maybe the reference is unintentionally intended – that is constantly in pursuit of people. He is the way, the truth and the life. At the center of that is truth. All truth belongs to God. So if you look for truth, I believe you will find Him. From that place you can bear witness.

What is the biggest obstacle you face when coordinating or participating in Christian theater?

Engaging the beliefs of Christians without enraging them. Most of our subscribers are Christians and some were upset when we announced our intention to produce a play about Mother Teresa. One remembered reading an article, which they elevated to an article of faith, that Mother Teresa renounced God before her death. After reading some articles myself, I discovered a private letter from her to a spiritual director, describing a dark night of the soul so dark I suspect St. John of the Cross would refer to it as Mother Teresa’s Night of the Soul, out of respect. When someone is getting that much demonic attention, God must be living in them; such a system of measurement cannot be converted to the prosperity gospel, but it is nevertheless true.

Anyway, we met people’s opposition with our conviction that Mother Teresa was a woman of God – yes, a woman with struggles and faults and doubts – but a woman of God. Some declined to renew their season subscription because of that decision, but they still attended other shows. God has a way of bringing people together, even when they don’t believe the same things.

And I believe this answers all your questions. You’ll never have to ask one again. I hope it’s been helpful, or at the very least, entertaining. Blessings on the project, Aubree!

Ben

*Maybe it is or maybe it isn’t.

**This is from a Bing Crosby Christmas song. Listen to it here. What is with the speech bubble lyrics? Stop putting words in his mouth. Let the man rest in peace.

2 thoughts on “Running with Questions

  1. “I know that the plural for deer is the same as the single, Aubree, but it’s more fun to say deers.”
    That made me chuckle!! It is indeed more fun.

    Lucky girl, that Aubree, to get an interview from The Ben Parman.

  2. Oh my… I can’t tell if you were delighted to write that to her or disturbed. I truly wish she knew your personality. Otherwise she may have been overwhelmed by your naked honesty.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s