Wednesday, March 31, 2010

#135-The Easter Drama

In honor of this special week, we look at one of the most enjoyable features of the Easter Drama which reenacts certain features of the story of our Lord and Savior. 

If you have not witnessed a Passion play, you are missing out. Find the local mega church near you this weekend and make your way down there...

I do not know if it happens any more, but I do recall that the Pentecostals of Alexandria (the Mangun's church in Louisiana) setting the mark for perfection in Messiah plays amongst apostolic churches. And i think it was because they had real live donkeys and goats walking around the church for the performance...There have been several others churches to use real animals in their play to make the play seem more authentic...I can just envision the conversation now as to how live animals in a church Easter play became a good idea...

Producer: "How can we make our Jesus play as real as possible?"

Pastor: "Well they used to sacrifice animals in the let's get some real animals and have the priests cut them up beyond recognition and then sacrifice them to God....this will really bring the crucifixion scene home."

Producer: "Okay I do not know if the whole sacrifice thing will go over well. So let's just compromise and bring in live animals....but let's not kill them...."

But let's go to some other features of the Easter Drama...

Bed Sheets
Thanks to Stephany Mirelez for the inspiration behind this post, and more specifically this specific point, for as she pointed out Apostolics love Bed Sheets....simply because they allow us to dress the part in Easter plays....I think the entire attic at my church is flooded with these sheets...Fraternities have toga parties with the same material, we have sheet parties once a year.....

When you look at illustrations of how we suspect the Jews dressed, it's like everyone just got right out of their bed, and then decided that they didn't want to make their bed that day, so "why not just wear my bed out on the town today?"

Actually, as i wrote that last paragraph, I am realizing that I want everyday of my life to be a Dress up for Easter Drama would be so comfortable!

Beards/Devil's Paint
There are a few specific moments in my life where I can recall the initial birth of the skeptic/cynic within me. One of them was when I found out girl's in my church were allowed to wear cover-up (but never make-up). Another one was when a respected lady in my church was observed wearing a giant, shiny broach, but no one was throwing stones at her. But perhaps, none had a more profound effect than a glowing April day in 1992.

I was all of 6 years old and I had the largest role of any child within my church's "Messiah" play... (it was still none-speaking none-the-less). Anyways I made my way to the dressing room.....

And the anxiety of guilt instantly rang out in my heart....

There were very familiar faces with very unfamiliar facial hair on their face. And there were women and some men of familiarity from my church with very unfamiliar darkened "paint" on their face...

6/10ths of me wanted to pull a Jesus in the temple, and start making a disaster out of the room (complete with whipping my least favorite Sunday School teachers), and declare out loud "You have made the House of God a house of Jezebel you heathens!"....

but 4/10ths of me knew there was a satisfactory explanation to this apparent contradiction. And alas at inquiring of my mother, she explained that the make-up (devil's paint) was allowed because some ridiculous reasoning of the lights on the actor's face....

And then as for the beards...she pointed out that Jesus and all his friends rode down their alleys back in the day 13 deep and a lot of beard....

Me: "Okay, so Jesus had a beard right?"

Mom: "Yes."

Joel:"And we can't have a beard right?"

Mom: "Well son you haven't even hit puberty yet so you don't need to worry about that yet. but that is correct, having a beard isn't a good witness to the world and we need to look our best in church."

Joel: "But aren't we supposed to imitate Jesus?"

Mom: ...."Not exactly."

Okay, so maybe this is a "What in the world is he talking about?" section....

But every kind of Messiah Play I have attended at different churches has had some way over the top kind of explosion during the resurrection in the tomb scene....

And here's why: The Sound men...

We know the Sound men run a lot of weird sorcery with the sound to make the distinction that they are the most valuable contribution to the church service. They allow for mics to "coincidentally" run out of battery for the best singer on the platform if the singer ever makes demands of how the sound should be run.....they have millions of buttons and gidgets that eat up 48% of the church's budget that oddly enough only the sound men themselves can tell make a difference....It's a weird science from weird men...(see more specific post here. )

Anyways, it's these sound wizards that are the same people behind the giant explosions in the Jesus dramas....The only thing more entertaining to sound men than sound, is fireworks and explosions from the depths of hell. So the sound men searched throughout the gospels looking at their opportunity to involve the explosions within the church drama. And finally they see in Matthew 28 a description of an earthquake and an angel like lightning and that's all they needed....

So at the resurrection from the tomb (or perhaps they did it at the cross where an earthquake also happened in Matthew), a blast from out of nowhere rings throughout the church causing kids every where to cry and poop their pants, and pre-teen boys everywhere to want to go blow up a cat which will make them become a sadistic serial killer years later.

And here's the scariest part, we as the church body trusted these amateur pyrotechnics to blow stuff up. It's not like they were trained professionals. This kind of dynamic of uncertainty made me all the more happier during the plays...."Man i hope they mess up....I hope a real fire happens....Please God please god...let this Easter play end differently than the rest."

The Awe of the Dude who is playing Jesus

Maybe it was just me on this one, but did not everyone have like the biggest awe of the actor who played Jesus? I remember as a kid that whichever person in the church was playing Jesus loss their personal identity, and I would forever remember them as the guy who played Jesus. For some reason i also concluded that whoever had to play Jesus was extra spiritual, so this all added to the allure more...

except, on some rare occasions, some of the dudes who played Jesus decided to become pedophiles years later which completely obliterated any reverence for guys who played jesus ever.

There are many more facets to the easter drama but alas this post is getting too long...comment on some of your favorites not mentioned below...

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  1. Haha, loved this one! Haven't been to a passion play in years!

    And in repsponse to the one that use to be held in Alexandria, they don't do it anymore. They stopped in 04. I hated it, I went several times when I was younger.

  2. Oh the Easter Dramas. I have been in many many many Easter dramas as a kid and teenager. Even directed one in my time.

    We never worse devil's paint though. That would have negated the anointing, possibly.

    The fake beards were ok though.



  4. I still think of the guy that played Jesus in the passion play I attended as a youth as Jesus sometimes...once he walked by and I tried to touch his garments. That didn't end well.

  5. the make up ''devils paint'' isn't used here as a vanity but just for a part in a play ...i think this happens to be the silliest one yet

  6. anonymous,

    I am not saying the devil's paint should not be allowed in the plays.

    The use of the term "devil's paint" is satire.

    So I do find "silly" a very apt description. That was the point.

  7. I think one of my favorite plays was one where we actually had John baptize Jesus. He gets out of the baptistry (since we didn't have a handy river flowing through the church) and we continue on. Until the next scene Jesus is in, and he doesn't come out. Out of awkward desperation we send the actor's wife back to find him. A fun qoute at our church the next few years was, "Jesus' wife said Jesus is blow drying his hair." :D Apparently the actor had such thick hair that it was still dripping all over him after towel drying. You've got to love moments like that in dramas :D