Those Rhetorical Questions

Encounters One of the challenges of doing one-man shows is handling “dialog” without the benefit of another actor to play against. There are tricks you learn… one being to ask a question, pause as though listening, and then respond to the imagined response of the other person (kinda like listening to one half of a conversation when someone is on the phone). It is a technique I use often in my dramas and is a great way to add some dynamic and interest to the presentation.

Obviously the question asked is rhetorical from the audience perspective… they understand you are alone and that no one is really going to respond out loud to your questions. But then again… maybe not so obvious to everyone. A few years ago I was performing “In His Steps” and as the pastor in the story addressing the “imagined” congregation I ask the question: “Do you understand what you are undertaking?” One dear elderly lady stood up and began a long explanation about her personal challenges in following Jesus. I paused let here talk for a few moments, then thanked her for her input and continued on with the story. I am sure a few people thought she was actually part of the show.

On Palm Sunday I was performing my drama “Encounters” in Flint, Michigan. One of the characters I portray is a Roman soldier who is addressing the idea that Jesus actually raised himself from the dead. He asks this “rhetorical question” to his imagined crowd: “How many of you believe this nonsense!?” There is barely a pause and a child’s voice comes loud and clear from the back of the auditorium: “I do!”

Out of the mouths of babes. Out of an audience of 800 people this child comes forth with a clear testimony of faith and belief. Some in the audience laughed and a few actually started to applaud! I love the fact that this child was fully engaged in the presentation and felt compelled to respond. Normally I would classify this as one of those moments when something “went wrong”… but in this case it just felt right! A child shall indeed lead them.

Chuck Neighbors