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January 20, 2011
Three Sweet Church Drama Scripts for Valentine’s Day

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Valentine’s Day is less than a month away. That’s still enough time to Rose On Wood BWput together a drama for the Sunday before the holiday. We have three scripts – “He Shoots, She Scores,” “The Wedded-Bliss Title Agency” and “Escape to Nowhere” – that you could order from the RileysDiner menu. Place your order today, and you’ll have a PDF of the script emailed to you within 24 hours.

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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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August 18, 2010
“Hesperia” Gets Dialogue Right for Church People

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I traveled to Chicago last Saturday to see the closing night of “Hesperia,” a play by Randall Colburn and staged by the Right Brain Project. It’s part of a commitment that I’m making to seeing plays, not just reading them. Both are important if you want to write for the stage.

In the play, Claudia is engaged to the youth minister of the local church in Hesperia, a town somewhere in the Midwest, or so I gathered, that’s near to the town where she grew up. Years earlier, she and a childhood friend, Ian, had traveled to Los Angeles after high school to start their life together and were soon drawn into the porn industry and drug addiction. Feeling that her life was empty, Claudia returned to the region where she grew up, looking for meaning and settling in Hesperia, a community where no one really knows her.

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April 16, 2010
When “Doctor Who” Resembled Church Drama

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The new season of Doctor Who premieres on BBC America tonight with Matt Smith stepping in to the lead role as the 11th incarnation of the Time Lord who travels the universe in search of adventure. I’ve been a fan of the show since I discovered the classic series on our local PBS station when I was in high school or college. That was when Tom Baker played the eccentric 900-year-old Time Lord. He’s still one of my favorite actors to portray the Doctor.

For those who are unfamiliar with the series, the Doctor is a renegade Time Lord from the planet of Gallifrey. Not content to merely observe events, he explores the universe in a ship that travels through space and time called a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space). His particular TARDIS is stuck in the shape of an old British police box, thanks to a faulty chameleon circuit. The TARDIS is larger on the inside than it is on the outside.

The series premiered in Britain in the 1960s with William Hartnell as the first incarnation of the Doctor. When Hartnell left the series, producers wrote him out by having the Doctor regenerate. They introduced the idea that whenever Time Lords are seriously injured or near death, their bodies heal themselves by regenerating into a new physical form. Therefore, a completely different actor can play the Doctor and add his own mark to the role. The series was canceled in 1989 but resurrected five years ago by Russell T Davies. There was an interesting story about the writing of Doctor Who in the years before its cancellation that made me think that it was a lot like church drama.

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

Posted by Michael in : Acting , add a comment

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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February 28, 2010
Writing One Thing; Saying Another

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Most of my writing has a theme. The theme guides me like a lamp in the woods on a pitch-black night. It’s how I get from the beginning to the end of my story. Some people could argue that short scripts don’t always require a theme. I’m not going to disagree with them. I know what works for me.

Sometimes a sketch might be a simple illustration or analogy. I watched one like that not too long ago. For me it was deadly dull. So although I didn’t feel connected to the character, the script served its function of acting as an illustration to set up a sermon. Truthfully, I’ve written my share of sketches that served as analogies and nothing more.

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February 20, 2010
A Plan Comes Together: RileysDiner’s Back

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If all goes according to plan — and of course whatever really goes according to plan — RileysDiner.com will have its first new sketch posted after many months of inactivity. Several factors have prevented me from being able to post new content, but hopefully all of that will change starting with Saturday night’s new scripts.

And since we haven’t had new scripts to offer, I’ve been hesitant to blog about new topics. This is my first entry since last June. Way too long. Anyway, here’s what’s planned for tomorrow.

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

Posted by Michael in : Acting , add a comment

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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