Six Days Till Sunday: A Week in the Life of a Sketch
Okay, so you'd like more than six days?
Fine. These are just hypothetical steps that can fit longer schedules just as well.
But don't kid yourself. Many a sketch goes down with even less than six days’ warning.
Monday: Choose sketch
Tuesday: Meet with pastor
Wednesday: Casting and read-through
Thursday: Blocking, memorization
The pastor calls. “This sermon I’m working on could really use a sketch."
“No, problem! I’m sure we can come up with something. What's the main idea?”
"You know what would be great?” he suggested, “A coach talking to a team!”
Heavy sigh. Of course it would. Every week someone suggests the ‘coach and team sketch.’
"Very motivating. What were those major points again?”
Looking at the notes from our phone conversation, I start the weekly prayer, "Lord, help me translate this into a meaningful illustration.”
I dig through my script library, scanning for a topical match. No luck. I try the Web site (www.dramaministry.com). Topical search. Two matches. First one doesn't fit. With a revised introduction, the second one works. Bingo. The hardest part's done.
Before picking up my son from Mom's Day Out, | drop by the pastor's office with a copy of the script.
"Got a minute?” I ask, handing him a copy. Seeing the words in black and white while I ‘pitch’ the idea always seems to help both of us visualize the final performance.
“Terrific. When can | see it?”
"We'll do a final run-through Sunday morning before the service. I’ll check with the music minister for a time.”
Of course, there are just a few steps between now and then.
A call to our ‘leading man’ secures the first role. I'd really like to use the new girl who joined the team, but I'm not sure this is the right role. I feel a little awkward asking her to read for the part, but I reassure myself with the thought that it is better to audition her than cast her in a role she’s not ready to do.
The three of us get together after work to read the script. Not only Is she great, but the ‘audition’ goes so well, it becomes the first read-through. Both actors have some experience, so we get up on our feet and do some preliminary blocking. This helps them in memorizing to know where they stand when they say a given line.
Time to check in with the cast for some housekeeping items. My big costume concern is that they have pockets or a belt for the microphone pack. While I've got them on the phone, we talk about their character homework (trying to get them to think like their characters): what are their intentions? motivations? last names? favorite TV shows? The real nitty-gritty.
We meet after dropping off our kids at the church for a lock-in. We run through it a few times, tweaking and polishing, fine-tuning the pace. It’s looking good, going faster than usual. So we take advantage of time off from the kids and quit early for a piece of pie.
7 a.m., | bring the donuts. We rehearse it in the space with the lights, microphones and props. Once they feel comfortable, the pastor drops by to see it and solidify his intro.
Our new gal is a bit nervous and wants to hang out in the choir room until it is time to perform. We reassure her that spending time in worship will be the perfect preparation. After all, our performance is really an offering and an act of worship.
The actors sit up front, and | try to discreetly position myself in the middle to read the congregation's response.
The last song is sung, the intro is given, and in seven minutes, it’s all done. A seamless transition back into the sermon, and I can breathe again. I even get something out of the teaching. It must have gone well.
Before they head out to brunch, I ask my cast to ‘tear down’ the set. Or in this case, fold up the chairs and put them away. We huddle in the foyer and talk through the congregation reaction. I comment on their growth from our first rehearsal and thank them for their work. With a hearty handshake and a joking, ‘let’s do this again sometime,’ it’s all over. That is until next week!