A month ago while my mother-in-law was visiting, I took her to a play (musical) put on by a local production company in the auditorium of a small private college. The play (Pump Boys and Dinettes) was shallow but acceptable. The three male actors and two female actresses did a good enough job to make the show interesting. The songs were performed very well.
Both my mother-in-law and I left the show with that feeling one gets when you have just wasted time and/or money. Neither of us was impressed with the production and would not have seen it again if we were paid to go. What on earth happened there that aroused such a feeling of disgust?
Saturday my wife and I went to a presentation put on by an independent youth theater made up entirely of Christian kids who are home schooled. This production was held in a modern theater at a recently built local High School. The production we saw on Saturday was the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma" which both of us dearly love.
Unlike the other play, everyone involved in this play was a teenager. It had all the earmarks of your typical High School musical. The acting was excellent (considering the age of the actors), the singing was exceptional and the dancing was stupendous. Yet, when it was finished both of us agreed that although it was a good production it left us feeling Â€Âœlet downÂ€ and unfulfilled. What on earth happened that aroused such feelings?
The common problem in both productions was horrible sound. In the first production the sound was so loud that it was literally impossible to make out the words of the actors, whether spoken or sung. There were perhaps 40 of us in that theater, yet the sound was loud enough for those in the next building to hear. At intermission we had to move from the balcony to the lower floor just so that we could decipher a few of the words.
At the second production the sound of the background music was WAY TO LOUD and thus drowned out the voices of the people singing. Once again we found ourselves straining to make out the words being sung. It is truly a pity and in my estimation a shame that much of the hard work that the went into the actual play was diminished by careless or egotistical technical people who didn't bother to notice they were blasting the audience out with the noise.
The other problem with the "Oklahoma" production was that after the intermission, they skipped three of the scenes and the show ended abruptly with a very dispirited rendition of the title number "Oklahoma". It was cut short and the whole play ended so fast that we all were asking ourselves what happened; did someone get hurt or something.
Here is the point of this critique. First of all, a production is a huge TEAM effort. You can have the very best script, songs and actors to perform them. You can have exceptional facilities with a stage to die for and top of the line lights, speakers etc. You can have incredible costumes and make up applied by true professionals. You can have a set designed and constructed that would be the envy of Broadway. You can have all these things, but if the person in charge of the volume control is busy texting or reading a book or sleeping; the end result will be a disaster.
It takes teamwork to put on a first class production in any field. There is no room for ego, attitude or apathy. In order to truly present a production worth the price of admission and the commitment of time; it takes the willingness of all involved to do their particular job the very best they can and in so doing the end result will be success.
The other point is that a production of any kind is only as good as the ending. It makes no difference if everything is perfect for 90 minutes if the last 10 fall flat. That is like running only 90 yards of a 100 yard dash and then casually walking over the finish line. The Old Testament tells us that whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing right the first time and doing it right every time thereafter.
I suppose I would make a lousy theater critic for I am perhaps too harsh and critical. But then again, if I cannot understand the words spoken or sung then what is the point in being there? We can have all the outer trappings that would impress unbelievers near and far, but if the message is lost due to apathy or mistakes, then we have failed miserably in our attempt to lure unbelievers to our faith through show only.
As you know, my immediate family (meaning my husband, son and I) are a theatre family of sorts. My husband is a professional audio engineer meaning he has had formal training as opposed to a guy at church who thinks it would be fun to sit behind the board. He has also been trained as a theatre technician so over the years he has run lights, special effects, built sets, etc. I have staged-managed a number of shows involving both adults and children and my son... well he does it all onstage as well as backstage. His degree is in theatre arts.
Every summer, the local churches of the denomination I grew up in would come together for a convention. Usually they would have my husband run sound but this particular year, he was unable to be there on Saturday due to a conflict. I remember the sound was horrible. It got even worse during the altar call. People were praying of course but as was the custom, musicians were playing and people were singing up on the stage as well. Needless to say, everything had become a jumbled mess.
Suddenly, out of the jumbled mess came order and clarity. What a difference! I paused what I was doing for a moment and listened. I had my back to the booth but a friend of mine was facing it. I looked at her and smiled as I said, "Dave's here." Startled she looked at me and said, "Yes, he's back in the booth. How did you know?"
LOL! I recognized his work!
Yes, there is no place for shoddy or indifferent workmanship within the Kingdom of God. While God can bless our feeble efforts and make them shine... He still expects us to do our very best!
Dear B2Y--You brought back memories of one of my two favorite high school teachers. Mr. Arthur Clark, my band director.
He graded on two standards. One was objective--how well a student reproduced the music set before them. The second was subjective--how well, in his opinion, did a student put out their best efforts.
He even applied that second standard to mistakes: "If you're gonna make a mistake, make it good and loud so there's no doubt in anyone's mind." He didn't advocate making them--he just didn't want them denied or covered up.
Somewhere in all of that is a parallel to the Christian life. Excellent blog, my friend. May you and blest have a restful evening and night--may you rise rested and invigorated in the morning. Ron
Great blog B2Y on how we should be less noisey and more attentive to hearing the WORD that I think God is trying to say to us, it might not be what you are trying to say here. But that thought came to mind when reading this. We need to be quite and know what the Lord is trying to give us to give others. Bless you in ALL you do for the Lord!!
May God help us in helping others, had a good prayer for you today!! its all in his handsÂ™