Friday, June 10, 2005

Nevada church offers spiritual backing to theater company

I just ran across this article from United Methodist News Service: "Nevada church offers spiritual backing to theater company" - The story describes how a local church became involved in supporting the Nevada Shakespeare Company in Reno.

It caught my eye because of my own love for theatre - I minored in theatre in college, and worked at the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ while in seminary. My youngest brother is now in one of the touring companies for STNJ, and actually on a path where he might have steady work as an actor! (If you are near NJ this summer, check out their touring schedule and catch a free performance of London Assurance or Coriolanus.)

I remember during my senior year of college, I was taking a class in theatre theory - and the professor, then-department chair Dr. Bo Rabby, was asking about our plans post-college. I mentioned how I "wasn't going into theatre" but into the ministry. His response, "oh yes, you're going into theatre." He too actually had some background in faith-related theatre programs, so he knew how much theatre and ministry could complement one another. Indeed, I've probably mentioned before how much my own love of Jesus Christ Superstar shaped my faith experiences in junior high.

Here's an excerpt from the article about how the pastors' of the church came to support the theatre:

"The relationship between the church and the theater company began when Auer and his wife, Julie, took a group to see the company's production of "King Lear" and met the cast afterward. "We learned they were outgrowing that theater space and looking for another," Auer said. "We invited them to consider the church."

It was a collaboration that made sense for the Auers, who met through the theater department at Indiana University and served inner-city congregations for 20 years in Chicago before transferring to the denomination's California-Nevada Annual (regional) Conference.

"Our passion for theater always has informed our planning for worship, Sunday and vacation Bible school, and our own lives and works," Auer explained. "We love the use of 'street theater' to make creative points about public events.""
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