Dramatizing Your Story
Most of the dramas I write are written as one-man shows or monologues. Some of these have an on-stage focus as if the character is speaking to one or more other characters on stage. Other times, the text is delivered directly to the audience. Still other times, the character is talking to himself. Several of my dramas change between two or even all three of these throughout the performance. But the question sometimes comes up: “how do you come up with your scripts?”
My scripts fall into two broad categories: Scripture and personal.
For the scripture-based dramas, I start with the scriptural story I want to convey and then complete the script from there. Sometimes the script will include direct scriptural quotes. Other times, I wonder “what if” with the characters. For instance, what would a conversation between Peter and John have looked like on Resurrection morning before Mary came back to tell them that the grave is empty? I’m always careful in these cases to do the necessary research to guarantee that nothing that is in the script is contrary to what is in scripture.
For personal dramas, I find it best to start with my own experience or experiences of those close to me. While very few of my personal dramas are 100% factual from my own life, they will all include snippets from my life or those close to me. They are the stories of life. As with scripture-based dramas, I’m also careful to be sure any facts or statistics in the dramas are true.
So what’s your story? It may seem bland to you but it could also make for a great story on stage!
How’d I get Started?
A few weeks ago, I posted a plea for questions (here). I haven’t received any yet but I thought I start by tackling one that I included as an example. How did I get started in theatre?
One of the earliest pictures of me in a costume is from 2nd grade.
For those of you who don’t remember the show, I was dressed up like Papa Smurf. My classroom (you can see some of my classmates behind me in the picture) did the play Bambi for a special show. I was cast as the narrator. Now, I’m sure most of you don’t remember the crossover episode between The Smurfs and Bambi (I don’t either but I didn’t watch The Smurfs very often)…but, in fact, that has nothing to do with it so I don’t know if it ever happened. Our 2nd grade class (under the tutelage of Ms. Gist) took on the identity of the Smurfs. This was especially helpful (I know now looking back) for when we were in the hallway as our principal, according to our teacher, was Gargamel. This helped to keep us quiet in the hallway.
During my elementary and middle school years, I was also heavily involved in dramas and musicals at my church.
Fast forward to my freshman year in high school. For the musical production of The Music Man, I was cast in the role of Winthrop. To say “I was cast” may be a bit of a stretch…I kind of cast myself. I had never really auditioned before so, rather than just look at the scenes that we were supposed to have ready, I took it on myself (with my sister’s help) to memorize the entire role before auditions. I got the role.
My junior year in high school, at Central Assembly in Springfield, MO, I was cast as Ebenezer Scrooge in their youth production of The Gospel According to Scrooge.
For my senior year, my school (Hillcrest High School) did The Sound of Music. I was cast as Admiral von Schrieber. Later that year, we did You Can’t Take It With You. I was the student director and Mr. Anthony Kirby.
Once I got into college, I originally went in as a math major. My freshman year, I was involved back stage for The Lion in Winter, onstage as Mendel (the Rabbi’s son) in Fiddler on the Roof, and as Andrew, age 64 in Why Do We Laugh. I was also involved with a mime ministry team called Voices. After that year, I felt a strong call into drama teaching and ministry. I changed to a Speech/Drama education major.
Throughout college, I worked backstage on She Stoops to Conquer, A View from the Bridge, A Doll’s House and several other productions and appeared onstage as Gonzalo in The Tempest.
Since college, I’ve taught 18 years (13 in public schools, 5 in private) in speech, drama, math, physics, computer applications and have worked some of those years as the technical liaison for the school as well.
I’ve also worked on many different drama productions, large and small, in churches with casts of all ages from preschool to adults. I’ve also started and run a community theatre company and written many one-man shows and productions.
So, there you go…a peak into what has brought me to where I am today. Other questions? Feel free to ask either on this post or the original post so I can get them answered!
I want you!
I’m embarking on a new goal. I want to 1) add posts here more frequently; and 2) answer questions you may have.
Now, this site is devoted to a few things…drama (meaning live theatre), ministry, live sound and other technology. So, please try to limit the questions to the topics appearing elsewhere on the site. I can also answer questions about me.
So, what’s it gonna be? Always wondered about how we accomplish a certain bit of “magic” in live theatre? Have questions about technical theatre–lights, sound, makeup, set design/build (sorry, costumes are not my forte)? Have questions about something pertaining to acting–memorizing lines, getting into character, blocking a monologue, directing a scene, stage combat? Wanna know how to start writing your own scripts? Do you just want to know more about my story–how I got started in drama?
It’s up to you. I want to answer your questions! But I have to know what they are. Comment below (click the name of the entry above to get to the individual post page to add comments) with your question and I’ll do my best to answer them over the coming weeks.
A New Beginning
When my wife, Kristy, tells the story about how we started dating, she will typically start off with the story of the weekend before our first date. She had been engaged before we met and had been on a couple blind dates since her engagement was broken off. Her mom had come down for the weekend and they went to Branson, MO to White Water water park. As they sat in the wave pool, Kristy lamented “being done with guys” and that she was going to focus on college and not concern herself with guys at all. That was Saturday. Fast-forward to Monday (two days later). Through a series of funny events (which would be too long for this entry…especially since it’s not exactly what the entry is about), by the end of the day, I had asked her for a date and she had accepted. She and her mom now warn that you should be careful about “swearing” off of things as it’s when you’re not looking that God will drop it in your lap.
My undergraduate major was in Theatre Education. I taught theatre for about 6 years and ran a non-profit theatre company for about 6 years (they overlapped). The theatre company was when my three kids were very young (we celebrated my youngest’s first birthday during rehearsals for our first production). As productions became larger and more frequent, the strain on the family get to be way too much and we decided to close the company and move on. Over the subsequent years, we did smaller, mostly holiday, plays at our church and I did some one-man shows there too. I moved from teaching drama to teaching math and computer applications. Slowly, most of the production time was taken out. During the summer of 2015, I started looking to get involved in productions again. I found a local production of West Side Story that I auditioned for and was cast as Officer Krupke. I auditioned for a few other shows after that including You Can’t Take It With You last summmer where I was cast as Mr. Anthony Kirby. Through that production, I was offered the opportunity to get back into directing which brings me to the productions I’m doing this fall, next spring and likely next summer. I wasn’t looking for a directing position when I auditioned last summer but through the series of events the opportunity presented itself.
Had to be a God thing.
A lot of times, you will find your desires when you stop actively looking for them.
Greetings and Welcome!
Welcome to my Blog! These posts will be filled with information and stories about my presentations, performances, events, workshops, general drama/theatre info and probably some family life things too. I hope you check back often. Thanks.