Sunday, July 31, 2011

painted into a corner

Yesterday, I joined the crew for work day at the theater. The set is moving along, and become more detailed. My job for the day was to paint two structures and the floor around it. This will eventually become Job’s house.

job set Stage Manager Leah jumped in to assist this painting effort. Soon, we were both on the floor with paintbrushes, strategically making our way down stage. It wasn’t until I heard Director Ian chuckling that I looked up and noticed that I had practically painted Leah into an inescapable corner. She only had one small paint-free “path” to freedom!

While this scenario was comical in a world of paint and set construction, how often do we “paint someone into a corner” in real life? When we want something, do we ever manipulate others so we can get it? Sure, it’s not the cruel, dramatic manipulation we see on television or in movies, but we have all learned the right things to say or do to influence the actions of others. Or perhaps our “painting” comes during fights and arguments. In the midst of our anger, we react in ways that leave another person no other choice but to react way out, and especially no way to reconciliation.

Jesus’ command to love one another seems so simply in the delivery, but so difficult to follow in times like these. Painting someone into a corner is never an act of love- only selfishness, inconsideration, or even lack of attention at all. It’s time to open our eyes and become aware of how we use our brush.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

breathing life

I’ve been on a break from rehearsals for the past few weeks, as there was little for a writer to do in this initial period of blocking. Blocking, for those who may have forgotten, is when the director goes through the script page by page and tells the actors when and where to stand, move, and deliver lines.

Though sometimes we work on scenes out of chronological order, it seems that Ian is taking the direct route and working from beginning to end. It was amazing to see the beginning of “Job” come to life after first imagining it in my head while writing, then hearing the lines spoken at the initial table-read.

The truth is that the written lines are only half the story. It truly is an example of “reading between the lines”. While an actor is speaking, many things can be happening. This also includes the actions of other characters on a different part of the stage. Just like in real life, many things happen at once. Job may be arguing with his friends near the wreckage of his children’s home while his wife is grieving on the front porch of their house. We also see the spiritual realm that is unseen by the characters. The audience watches as the work of Satan and his demons unfolds.

Seeing a story become real reminds us that the story IS real. We can’t allow the ancient text to become merely a fairytale. God obviously thought Job’s testimony was relevant to our millennium, or He wouldn’t have gone through the trouble of including it in our holy text. How much are we aware of the spiritual happenings around us? We can be quick to blame the  devil when anything goes wrong, but is that accurate? Or do we take the other extreme, like Job, and ignore Satan’s existence altogether and blame God for being unfair? Does the battle between good and evil place us in the middle? And does the acknowledgement of this reality change the way we pray, behave or react?

Job didn’t know the whole story, but what if he did? Do we comprehend the big picture? What if we did? Suddenly, “Job” seems less like an ancient tale and more like something to which we should pay attention…

Thursday, July 7, 2011

musings from a resting time

I didn’t attend rehearsal on Sunday. It felt strange to know everyone was hard at work as usual, but I wasn’t involved. However, my role in Job is behind the scenes, as a writer on standby to make any necessary script adjustments as well as participate in work days at the theatre. But this means there are no lines for me to memorize, no blocking to learn, and no reason to juggle Sundays working at a church with a drive to Anaheim in time for a few hours of rehearsing. This is a healthy  situation, but it still feels odd as I break from the routine of past shows.

One observation crossed my mind today. While I am not “religiously superstitious”, the process of writing the Job script has clearly been a challenging time in all areas of my life. I’ve been hit with struggles of all types- financial, emotional, situational, and even in some relationships. Yet now, when the script is written and in the hands of actors, things have been going pretty smoothly. Most of the challenges have been resolved, and there are blessings on top of that. One might assume this is coincidental, except if follows the story of Job too well. After Job went through tragedy, trials, and troubles, God restored everything he lost, then added more. Similarly, I’m experiencing that kind of blessings and bonuses in many areas of my life. Sure, there are battle wounds and scars that run deep. I am not exactly the same girl who sat down with a Bible and note cards to begin adapting scripture for the stage. And I imagine Job emerged from the refining fire of spiritual warfare feeling weary from the fight yet revived with a “second wind”. His perspective was probably forever changed by his experience. And if he’s anything like me, the motives in his heart of worship were driven by a deeper love for the Almighty who laid the foundations of the very earth on which he stood.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

behind the scenes as we set the stage

Want a sneak peek at the Job set?

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Job is an original production, from the adaptation of the scripture down to the last detail of set design.

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Ian and Clayton discuss details. You might recognize that lattice from Risen. When your theater company is not-for-profit, set pieces are versatile and re-usable.

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Everyone pitches in, because there are a lot of tasks that happen at work day. In addition to constructing the set, a working theatre requires maintenance, organization, and cleaning. Today, my job was organizing the tool cabinet.

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Perhaps you’re inspired to join the fun. Work days happen most Saturdays, and any helping hand is welcome. Maybe you’re saying to yourself right now, “Oh, that would be fun if I lived closer or had some free time.” Never fear- there is a place for your support. Coffee-drinkers (or people who like to give coffee as gifts) can help us with this fundraiser. 

Work days are just one more way the people of Masquer come together to make impactful shows happen!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


The cast gathered around the tables, ready to read through the Job script. Usually there is an excited anticipation for what the new script holds. I imagine that’s how most of the cast felt, though this time I was already familiar with the story, as I placed the words on the page.

But even I was surprised by a few of the actions that happen “between the lines”, pieces of subtext Ian-the-director has planned. The dialogue is already pretty substantial, and the action will enrich the story. It’s almost like the piece has layers for the audience to unwrap. Early rehearsals are the part of the process where the show moves from our imaginations to physical real life on stage. It’s a little bit strange (in a good way), and I wonder if this is how it feels when someone writes a song from their heart, then witnesses it gain popularity and be sung by other people.

In addition to reading the script, we talked about the experience of working on Job and what that might mean  for our personal lives. Already, the production team met opposition as we wrote, composed, planned, and designed. While we can’t know the future, there is a strong possibility that this spiritual warfare will extend to the rest of the cast now that they are on board. Of course, there is nothing that God won’t cover with His mercy, but it is important that we stick close to our Redeemer- be it through prayer, worship, Bible study, and beyond. Having prayer support from people outside of the theater company is also necessary. Yet, as someone who has dealt with this project, I can attest that even with all these “safety nets”, God still allows us to walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

The dark times aren’t fun, but they are necessary. And at least we have the Light to guide us through the darkness. It would be pretty difficult for us to properly tell the story of Job the sufferer if we told it from a bubble of safe comfort. Pain and trials breed understanding, wisdom, and even compassion. But these “easy answers” don’t make it feel any better when we’re camping out in “the valley”.

When I looked around the table at the cast of Job, I saw amazing men and women willing to risk their comfort to be part of this show. They’ve heard about our journey, they know the material, and they are aware they are chancing some great difficulties. Yet they are still ready to jump in whole-heartedly. Each of these people believes the story is so important that they will risk their own “safety” to help tell it. They are ready to tackle a heavy script and a demanding rehearsal process to share the story of spiritual warfare and restoration. Whether motivated by a love for people or simple obedience to God, this cast and crew is ready to risk it all.

Friday, June 24, 2011


“Risen” seems ages in the past, yet it closed only two months ago. Not long after my previous entry, personal life events took a different turn. I found myself at rock bottom, spending the evenings of the last few shows in the hospital, instead of on the stage. There was no “closing night” for me, no good-bye to the show, and no set strike to seal the deal. It broke my heart to miss “Risen”, and I had no closure since I couldn’t bid it a proper farewell.

Yes, God was there with me just as He was in the theatre. His love was hand-delivered by my friend-family every single day. And I still carry moments of “Risen” with me. Just today, I read a Bible study, and it talked about the women who discovered Jesus had vacated the tomb. The study called for the reader to imagine how they would feel if they were walking in those women’s sandals. And I knew, because I walked that- and felt that- on stage 2,000+ years after that first Easter Sunday morning.

I carry “Risen” with me whenever I hear the songs we sang each night. They are more than just words and melody, they are pieces of my soul that are forever ingrained on my heart. Love for my Jesus, awestruck wonder at His story, and even the preciousness of the cast and crew lie safely in between the music and lyrics.

And I carry “Risen” as we work on the next show. Without the hope of the Redeemer, this production of “Job” would be far too heavy, hopeless, and even senseless. We’ve been working on the script for this original production for over six months. Right now, the first official draft is complete. There will undoubtedly be rewrites between the first rehearsal and opening night, but we’ve reached a pretty big milestone.

Two weeks ago, we held auditions. For the first time, the characters jumped off the page and became real. God revealed our cast, and so the show begins to take form. We’ll have the table-read on Sunday- the first rehearsal where the entire cast reads through the entire script. Part of me is a little excited-yet-nervous, but these really aren’t my words. Yes, my fingers typed the script, but the story is God’s, the plot was His idea, and I really did more “adapting” then writing. And even that was guided by our director, Ian. Yet, I am honored to be a part of the process, and joyously anticipate seeing the show come to life.

“Job” is often the poster child for suffering. Christians often direct people to this part of the Bible when they have no answers for bad-things-happening-to-good-people. As the production team worked during the past six months, we have definitely hit opposition from an enemy that does not want the story to be told. I don’t know if that will continue or reach out to the rest of the cast and crew. Religious superstition isn’t my thing, but I have seen- and been affected by- how much of a punk Satan can be. We won’t give up, and God is a zillion times bigger than any old devil. However, the prayer support from you and others is so precious as we portray and experience spiritual warfare. Now that we are in production, please consider remembering us to our Heavenly Father and ultimate Director. Feel free to bookmark this blog or connect with Masquer on Facebook. Maybe share this with other prayer warriors you know. And if you think about it, please let us know that you’re praying? Such encouragement strengthens us through the obstacles and challenges. God’s hand is necessary for this show to even exist.

So we begin the story of “Job” as a company. If the past few months of pre-production are any indication, it’s going to be a wild ride. But this wild ride will definitely be used to reveal God’s glory.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

where are your eyes?

We are smack-dab in the middle of the run of "Risen", and what a wild ride it has been! Last night's performance was a little crazy. There were little glitches and hiccups here and there.... which happens (welcome to live theatre). As trained actors, we know that we just keep moving through the performance and trust that God will fill in the gaps where we make mistakes. This doesn't always prevent frustration though, especially when you're a perfectionist.... but the show must continue.

Despite my best efforts, I could not focus on the show at all! I was present on stage, going through the motions, but I felt like I was elsewhere. It was easy to be distracted as my mind wandered far from the moment. In desperation, I prayed through each scene- both from the wings while waiting for cues as well as when actually under the lights and in character. At one point, I kept telling myself, "Focus. Come on. Look at Jesus. Keep your eyes on Jesus and don't see the distractions."
One of the challenges of "Risen" is that Jesus is not portrayed by an actor, but through a white cloth that is manipulated by a bunraku technician (or, as we lovingly call them, prop ninjas). This is so that a person in the audience won't be hindered by the choices of an actor, but instead can see Jesus however they personally know Him. By doing this, you can place yourself among the disciples and in the very real story.

However, as an actor, it's not always a simple task to react to a piece of fabric as if it were a living, breathing person/savior. Additionally, there's an angel walking around stage- an angel that is invisible to our characters. So the mental process can sound something like, "Remember where you stand a move, focus on portraying the appropriate emotion and communicating through the song, ignore the angel, focus on the Jesus cloth." Throw in the immense lack of focus and personal distractions of last night, and you see how those desperate prayers emerge.

I'm pretty sure you see where the real-life similarities exist. I don't have to tell you how easy it is to be distracted from worship, from service, from the purposes of God's kingdom. And you know the solution is keeping our eyes on Christ, maintaining focus on the way, truth, and life. And of course, though the concept is simple, it's no easier than performing with a piece of cloth and a non-invisible angel while your mind and heart are on things beyond the stage. But it's not impossible, and He hears our desperate prayers. As we saw last night, God makes beautiful things, even out of the distracted offerings we lay at His feet.

I urge you to come see "Risen" tonight or next weekend. If the past five shows are any indication, it's likely you will witness some kind of miracle.