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February 9, 2014
“My Little Davy” Performance Scheduled at Hoogland Center for the Arts

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My Little Davy 3

My comedy sketch, “My Little Davy,” will be performed as part of One Mic Stand, a local stand-up comedy show that’s taped in The Club Room at the Hoogland Center for the Arts in Springfield, Ill., on Wednesday, Feb. 12.

It’s been a lot of fun to direct one of my own sketches. I haven’t done that in quite a while. And it was all the more enjoyable to work with three talented actors who are bringing these characters to life. The actors, pictured above from left, are Linda Castor as Doris, Jeremy Goeckner as Davy and Danielle Ward as Emma.

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October 29, 2011
“Judgement House,” Other Scary Church Plays Thrive on Manipulating People

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judgement demonYears ago, I went to a performance of "Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames" at a church near my home in the St. Louis metro region. The play was a series of vignettes depicting different people dying and facing their eternal judgments.

Some went to Heaven; others were dragged away screaming to Hell. As a drama, it was predictable. With each scene, you were introduced to new characters, at least one of whom was going to die in the next few minutes.

While much of my recollection of that production is fuzzy, two scenes left strong impressions. One featured a young woman who commits suicide and then is sent to Hell; the other told the tale of a father and teen son killed in a car accident followed by a demon tormenting the father as he watches his son dragged off to Hell first.

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December 16, 2010
Want To Be A Good Actor? Start Acting Like a Child

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OK. This is way too cute. Make yourself a hot cup of coffee and spend the next seven-and-a-half minutes watching this little girl tell the story of Jonah. 

This would be a great video to show your church drama group. Start a discussion about what this girl does that makes her delivery so effective. What makes her such a good storyteller?

There’s a lot that I take away from this. What does it say to you? One thing that stands out for me is how children have a fantastic ability to pretend. As we get older and more serious, we lose that gift – or maybe we’re too afraid to show it. When you get right down to it, isn’t that what acting is all about? Pretending?

We work so hard to deliver memorized lines, but what if we just push ourselves to the next level, stop worrying about delivering a string of memorized words and phrases, and just let go and pretend when we do our next sketch?

December 11, 2010
More Than 1,300 Experience Pflugerville Church’s Dramatic Journey on ‘The Road to Bethlehem’

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More than 1,300 people turned our for two performances of Pflugerville Community Church’s production of “Journey to Bethlehem” on Dec. 3-4. This is the sixth year that the church, which pflugerville promois about 20 miles north of Austin, Texas, has performed my one-act interactive Christmas drama – and I’m honored that they have continued to make this a holiday tradition in their community.

They had 522 people the first night, followed by a whopping 822 people the second night. Wow!! And Heidi Gollub, who directed the production at the church, told me that 60 percent of the people who attended were first-time visitors. If your church is looking for a great way to establish a Christmas tradition for your community that focuses on why we celebrate the season, consider checking out this holiday drama from RileysDiner.com.

Here’s what one of the visitors wrote about their experience on the first night:

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March 20, 2010
Memorizing Scripts – No Shortcut for Hard Work

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It’s a Saturday night. Your actors have shown up for the final rehearsal for the sketch for jim-parsonstomorrow’s worship service. You really want to work on polishing the performance till it shines. And you’d be able to do it, too, if it wasn’t for that one guy.

You know who I’m talking about. It’s that one person who doesn’t have his or her lines memorized yet. But they’ll have them memorized by tomorrow, they promise. Of course, you know that you’ll be sweating through the entire performance, hoping that the lines all come out in the right order and that the action doesn’t grind to a halt while everybody looks blankly at each other waiting for someone to say their lines.

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March 5, 2010
New To Church Drama? Try Readers’ Theatre

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Starting a drama ministry can be an intimidating task, especially if it’s something you or your church hasn’t tried before. You may have plenty of volunteers who are eager to take the stage but you don’t know what their stage personality is going to be like. Once they’re up in front of an audience, they may behave completely differently from rehearsals.

I’ve seen some people who were shy and reserved in real life. Rehearsals were excruciating. I cringed when I imagined what their performances would look like. I tried to be as encouraging as possible, hoping to get something close to a decent performance out of them. At least it would be a church audience, who are often kind even when we lay a rotten egg. But then something happened. That shy performer was a different person on stage. He was outgoing, energetic and fascinating to watch.

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June 20, 2009
Church brings ‘Beneventi and Sons’ to life

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Sunrise Community Church near Sacremento, Calif., performed one of my favorite sketches, “Beneventi and Sons,” the week before Father’s Day. Chris Poppelreiter, who leads the church’s drama ministry, sent me a few photos. I’m always delighted to get a chance to see how others bring my work to life.

“Beneventi and Sons” is a modern retelling of the The Prodigal Son. The two characters are Nick, the older son, and the father, Pop, who runs an auto-repair shop in New York City. Nick is upset because Pop has given everyone the day off so he can throw a big party for his other son, who’s returned home after a five-year absence.


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December 7, 2008
A scene from “The Road to Bethlehem”

Posted by Michael in : Acting , 1 comment so far

For several years now, I’ve been privileged to have Pflugerville Community Church in Texas stage my one-act Christmas drama, “The Road to Bethlehem.” I’ve seen photos of their productions, heard about the thousands of people who have taken the journey, and received many kind notes of appreciation from church members.

By reviewing the photos, I could tell the church made a significant commitment to tell the story well, to help bring this Christmas story to life. This year, first through the miracle of Facebook, I was able to see a video of one of the scenes. The scene features the characters of Zechariah and Elizabeth. The two actors portraying these characters have fantastic chemistry. The scene is available on YouTube now, and I’ve posted it here for you to enjoy.

A special thank-you to my good friend, Heidi, at Pflugerville Community Church. She was kind enough to send me the video of this scene. We’ve exchanged many e-mails over the years as the members of her church brought this drama to life. If you’re interested in staging “The Road to Bethlehem” at your church for Christmas 2009, you can order a reading copy and send me an e-mail for more info about performance rights.