Drama Ministry—The Basic Training

A blog is probably not the best place to try to teach acting skills.  You can’t teach someone to sing by reading a book nor can you teach acting by simply telling them the basics.  Both have to be learned through experience, by “doing” rather than merely reading and studying about them.  However you can come to some understanding of some of the basics that need to be considered.  Here is an overview of the basics to be considered for those who want to develop drama ministry in the church

What Does it Take to Make it Work?

Here is a chance at the outset to help people identify some of the things that are going to be required to have a successful drama ministry. The goal is to help people realize that good drama ministries don’t just happen. They take work, planning, and discipline.  Consider:

  • People – you need actors, director and support people.
  • Material (scripts) – are you going to write your own or purchase?
  • Rehearsal space – ideally you need to have not only rehearsal space but an opportunity to rehearse on the actually stage before the performance.
  • Leadership/Director- drama doesn’t work well in committee. You need a director!
  • Commitment – it takes time to do drama well. . .you need people willing to give that commitment (rule of thumb — one hour of rehearsal for each page of dialog).
  • Costumes, sets, and props – even the simplest of productions will have these needs
  • Technical support – lighting, sound, etc.
  • Good communication between the drama team leader and the pastoral staff.

That last one is huge, especially if your plan is to include drama on a regular basis in your worship services.  And to be honest it is often the downfall of many drama ministries.  Make sure you share a vision with the leadership of the church.

Performance Basics

There are resources out there to help you train and develop your team. I wrote a book based on my drama workshops called Drama Now, which serves as a sort of basic training for drama ministry.

Here are the performance basics you will need to consider:

  • Inhibition.  One of the first obstacles to getting started for beginning actors is fear.  Fear of getting on stage and making a fool out of themselves, fear of blowing their lines, fear of not be accepted by their fellow actors or by the audience.  We need to tackle this fear head on.
  • Body Control.  Acting is a visual medium.  Our bodies are instruments to be used to communicate our message.  Often what we say with our bodies is just as important as the lines we recite.  Actors need to become aware of this and learn to use and train their bodies to say what we want them to say.
  • Body Movement.  Body Control has to do with becoming aware of our body and how it can be used to communicate.  Body Movement has more to do with the rules of the stage (yes, there are rules!).  This is where we will get into the proper way to stand, sit, and walk on stage.
  • Eye Contact/Focus.  Our eyes, while a very small part of our body, are extremely important in the communication process, both in real life and on stage.
  • Voice Projection.  Today almost every actor uses a microphone. While this technology has many benefits, it is still important for actors to know how to project their voices.
  • Diction.  You can have great projection but if we can’t understand you because you have bad diction or you are talking too fast, then we have a problem.
  • Memorization.  An actor’s goal is to know the lines so well that he or she doesn’t have to stop and think, “what comes next?”  The focus should be on character, not lines, when it comes time for performance.
  • Characterization.  The real fun and creative part of being an actor is in creating believable characters on stage.  This is where we get to use our imaginations; where we revert back to what many of us did so well in our childhood—pretend.

There is more, much more to consider, but this is a good overview of what you will need to consider.  There is a sort of mantra that people in the church drama movement have adopted and I think this is a good place to insert it:

“I’d rather see no drama than bad drama.”

To do drama well takes time and dedication.  Is it worth it?  I think so… but if you are going to do it be sure you do it well!

Chuck Neighbors

1 thought on “Drama Ministry—The Basic Training

  1. Jen says:

    Thank you Chuck! Sorely needed advice. I will be leading a drama workshop for our group

    Reply

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