“I really enjoyed your… uh… sho–uh… your… uh”
I’m thinking, “Please don’t say it. Don’t say that other word that starts with an ’s’.”
“I mean, I liked your skit?… is that what you call it?”
Ah, she said it. There it is–the dreaded 4 letter “S” word that is like foul language to us theater types. Yet I understand. I mean, this is church and I think the word “skit” was invented at church youth camp. It is hardly the right word to use for those of us in the world of professional theater, but it’s okay. The church, for the most part, doesn’t quite know what to do with performers the likes of myself.
The next person I encounter struggles for a better whatchamacallit…
“That was a great… uh perfor… uh… presentation. Is that what you call it?”
Ah, yes! “Presentation” that’s the safe word. I don’t like it, but it is better than “skit,” although I think presentation works better in the corporate training world. However, I find that even I use it when describing what I do. “Presentation” is one word that can mean many different things; it’s generic. A sermon, a concert, a testimony, a drama… all can fall under the banner of “presentation” and be suitable to use in the context of a church service.
The truth is, what I have just done is a performance, usually a drama or storytelling. The common descriptor in the culture would be a one-man-show. Ah… but that creates a problem in the world of the church. The church is not the place for “shows.” And for many this is especially true when it comes to the worship service–the place I do most of my performing. The problem is not with what I do. Once experienced, most agree it is totally appropriate for worship. I describe it to many as a “creative sermon.” The problem is what to call it. The church, especially today has placed a premium on authenticity and anything too polished or too professional that feels like a “performance” is suspect.
I get it. It’s sort of a backlash against the idea that worship is just a “show” a–“performance”–and not authentic on the part of those on the platform. But worship is also a place for those with gifts in the arts to use them, and use them effectively. For us it is our offering.
So I will continue to struggle to find the right word. I’ll grin and bear it when you refer to my performance as a skit.
And then there are the other related issues:
“That was so moving… I wanted to applaud… but I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate!”
And this favorite from a friend:
“That was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. It was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud.”
Performing in the church: a conundrum.
Posted by Chuck Neighbors | 5 comments