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.