(Christian play writing for dummies - seriously though, this is a very good easy to understand treatise on the subject)
By: Christian Theatre Scripts | Posted: 16th October 2009
1) Poorly written scripts.
Just because Christians are commanded to be forgiving people, that doesn’t mean we should take advantage by presenting them with poorly-written material. The idea may be brilliant (yes, it really is!), but if we don’t take the time and work (ugh), our pieces will not be brilliant. Period.
The solution? Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. This is for the Lord, people! Let’s strive for excellence. (Side note: You will also get a much higher caliber of talent to participate if you give actors something great to sink their acting chops into.)
2) Preachy opposed to powerful.
We all know it’s true. In the midst of being entertained, no one likes to be preached at – Christian or not. Leave that to our pastors on Sunday mornings. Every powerful play, movie, book, etc. should have a message – otherwise, what’s the point? – but there is a difference between your character having a beautiful life-changing encounter and a character that brings the action to a crashing halt by getting up on a soap box and giving a sermonette. That makes my skin crawl, and I’m a Christian. Imagine how the unbelievers feel about it.
The solution? Don’t preach. Let the story evolve in a realistic way, and let the message speak for itself. (More on this in #5.)
3) Humorless story and characters.
Some of us think in order to be taken seriously, or to keep our piece “sacred,” we need to be somber. This is a sure-fire way to flop.
The solution? Humor is a part of life, so if you want your piece to be true to life, include it. When used effectively and with care, humor can lighten the mood and make your audience feel relaxed. It can even help them remember key points in your story. This doesn’t mean your character should suddenly become a standup comedian, especially at an inappropriate moment or just for the sake of “comic relief.” It must fit, must flow naturally from the preceding lines.
4) Unbelievable characters.
You know what I’m talking about. Wait for it, wait for it … Stereotypes. There, I said it. The character is either the evil, one-dimensional unbeliever, or the saintly, one-dimensional Christian. I saw a Christian film in which the wife was a “Stepford Christian.” She was so determined to stand by her man that she didn’t even flinch when he betrayed her. I’m not saying awesome Christian saints don’t exist – there are certainly those who forgive and love unconditionally – but everyone is human. I wanted to see that wife “lose it” – scream her head off – do something (anything). Her entire world was falling apart all around her, and she didn’t budge. It’s bad enough that Hollywood sees Christians as a “type,” but how is it that CHRISTIANS themselves are writing characters like these?
The solution: Have your Christian character – even if he/she is the “strong” character in your piece, break down at some point. He/she can grow through the experience, and repent. This is real life.
5) An unbelievable climax that leads to a disappointing conclusion.
The show is coming to an end. The unbelieving character falls to his knees and cries out to God, just as you expected and hoped for, and yet … instead of feeling moved, you feel manipulated, cheated, or let down.
The solution: The character’s conversion must evolve naturally and believably from the story. It must be 100% sincere. To build real suspense, you must show the unbeliever’s spiritual progress step by step, from the very beginning of the show. The process is what we want to see. The process is your story.
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