Thoughts from Sydney Uni

We asked some of the acting team from Sydney Uni to share their experiences with The Mark Drama:

Declan joined his non Christian friends for pool one Thursday night and casually told to them that he was in a play called the Mark Drama. They were interested and were very keen to watch him perform. So they came to watch… and were deeply moved by the crucifixion scene. Sitting near the back, they did not know what was the sound of the banging as Jesus was laid down on the ground. When they saw Jesus being raised up on the cross – they understood what the banging was – the nails being driven into the hands of an innocent man. It was scene that made them feel sick. They asked their mutual friend Caroline – “How could a good man be crucified?”. When Caroline offered a copy of the gospel of Luke – they were glad to accept it.

For me, acting in the Mark Drama was one of most the meaningful and worthwhile things I’ve done in a very long time. I was so amazed to see the reaction of the audience during the crucifixion scene. Even friends who don’t follow Jesus came to watch the show were moved by the whole experience. One wanted to read the Bible with me afterwards.
While initially skeptical (and regretting the busyness it added to his busy life), by the end all Adam could say was “just incredible”. Seeing what a powerful medium drama is to tell the gospel, he knew that he had to get his younger brother to come watch it. After much prayer, God answered. On the second night his brother and whole family came to watch. He could see that his brother was deeply moved seeing Jesus on the cross. “What did Jesus’s death mean for you?” asked Adam. His brother said he didn’t know. Adam continues to be prayerful for future opportunities to explain the gospel to his brother.
I found it very helpful to invite my Japanese FOCUS friends to come watch the Mark Drama. Cross cultural ministry is never easy because of language barriers, but I love sharing God’s Word with internationals. After the Mark Drama, I met my Japanese friends to study the account of Jesus healing a paralytic man in the Bible. It was so helpful that they’d seen this scene the night before in the Mark Drama!
Playing Jesus is not easy. So Jack was very apprehensive when he signed up for the role. ‘How can you learn all these lines in such a short amount of time? How can three rehearsals be enough for a 90 minute performance?’ But God works through weak people. Jack was personally edified by playing Jesus. Watching the story from where he stood gave him new insights into Jesus’ life and death. ‘Jesus’s words are always on my mind now. It’s so much easier to recall them when fighting against temptation and sin!’ In all his experience as an actor, he has never been so emotionally affected by any other role. From the shouts of “Hosanna!” to the cries of “Crucify him!”, holding back tears was a difficult task.

Directing The Director’s Drama

We asked Rohan Smith about his experience of directing the Mark Drama for the first time for the Sydney University Evangelical Union:
The 15 cast members gather in the rehearsal space. Most of them are meeting each other for the first time. As names fling around the room, Warren and I match name to face and commit them to memory. Already there is a sense of camaraderie as we embark on this yet to be fully understood project together.
The compact rehearsal schedule meant we had very little time to “break the ice”. The cast had to trust each other and Warren and I as directors, to get straight into it. But the development of confidence in each other and in the material grew exponentially. By the end of the first rehearsal we had spent one quarter of our total time together as a cast, but we were one third through Mark’s gospel and one hundred percent friends.
The newly appointed Peter and his fellow disciples follow my lead as I teach them how to distribute and collect the food for the five thousand. They are cautiously humorous in their lines (“Oh, sorry I forgot you’re gluten free”)  and I encourage it. The Pharisees are also developing their own persona, standing tall with puffed chests, demanding to be heard.
Mark Drama directing is never about me. I helped people immerse themselves into Scripture and gently steered the ship, but the cast made it their own. It was encouraging to see them understand this style of story telling and how it points people to Jesus.
The cast walk together back to the station after the second rehearsal. Some catch the same late train (or track-work bus) as me. We discuss together our favourite scenes, our potential invitees, the challenges and encouragements of being immersed in Mark’s gospel for a week. We are tired, but we are on fire. We’re already seeing the drama’s impact on our own lives, and are excited to see how it impacts the audience. 
It was hard work convincing each cast member to join the team, but these conversations on the train made it worth it. Many thanked me for pushing them to join, because of how Mark Drama had strengthened their faith.
Jesus is hanging on the cross. The final performance is nearly over. Joseph of Arimathea must pause to gather himself before he continues the scene. It’s another one of the many beautiful moments where the actors authentically engage with the events in the drama. After the performance, all the actors gather in a group hug full of smiles and tears, congratulating each other and marvelling at God for the work he has achieved. 
In the end, and in the beginning, God is the ultimate director. We perform His words. We display His glory. We announce His salvation.
Jesus is God’s Son. Listen to Him.