Across this and last year we’ve seen the Mark Drama cross several boundaries – some of them geographical and others cultural. It was especially encouraging to have the first ever Mandarin production happen in Sydney in September. The adaptability of the Mark Drama to different cultures comes as no surprise as the message of the gospel is for all nations. The time has now come for all people to be fed with the ‘bread from the children’s table’ (Mark 7:24-30), and it has been so refreshing to see people taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps 34:8)!
Join us in thanking God for Australia’s first-ever Mark Drama performed entirely in Mandarin!
Just under 2 weeks ago at the University of New South Wales, a cast made up of native mandarin speakers from the FOCUS ministry and others (local Campus Bible Study students) who had to put the hard work in learning the language for the drama partnered together to make it happen!
Our director, Lucy Cheng, writes: “I was super encouraged by the cast and how excited they were to be able to put this on in Mandarin.
In God’s kindness, 170 people came along, many new international students from China who have just arrived at UNSW, many non Christian friends and family members were invited along!
Many of the cast had non Christian family members whom do not understand English and they were super thankful that they were able to hear the gospel for the first time in their heart language!”
Naomi recently was part of the Plus Team for the Mark Drama – this is a super important group of people who take on various rolls in the performances – could be everything from an extra disciple to a widow, from Pilate to a fig tree!
Please read and be encouraged by Naomi’s reflections here as a Plus Team member of the Orange Evangelical Mark Drama.
To tell you what I got out of the Mark Drama requires telling you a little about how I came to Jesus.
Most of my life I didn’t know Jesus, then 3 years ago I came to church. It started with a curiosity. I wanted to know more about this guy called Jesus. Frankly that was about all I knew about Christianity. I went head first into learning. I said yes to everything including reading so so many books.
Then on Good Friday 2019 as I sat listening to the death and resurrection, all that I’d read came to my mind and I was struck by the suffering Jesus went through and that he chose to do that willingly for me. All the knowledge went from my head to my heart and I believed. I knew with certainty what the bible said was true.
As I’ve been a cast member I’ve been struck by the realness of it all. What it must have been like to be an everyday Jewish person and for Jesus to come on to the scene like he did, I’ve been struck by the humanness of the disciples. Even as an extra disciple I found it moving to sit at the feet of Jesus and feel the authority and nature of Jesus come through. It helped me feel a stronger connection to Jesus than before.
I found it deeply challenging and moving to be a disciple yet later to call out “crucify!”. At points I forgot I was acting and began to really mean it. To follow that up as the weeping woman at the tomb….every single time I was that woman I had raw actual tears.
It has been an incredible experience. What the Mark Drama has done is bring the gospel to life for me in a way I don’t think it could have even being an audience member. It has given me a greater confidence in the gospel and reminded me that there are many religions but only one can truly give us salvation and a restored relationship with God. It made me cherish how precious our salvation really is. And really appreciate again the cost it took to win it for us too.
If you asked me would I recommend being in the cast, I would absolutely say yes.
A highlight for me was getting my anti-Christian family to come and that they enjoyed themselves. They see Christianity as pointless and of no worth to their lives. I hope and pray the performance has had an impact on them and that one day they might come to trust in Jesus. For me getting them to come wouldn’t have been possible had I not been in the cast and with such a clear and easy presentation of the gospel, it’s a wonderful opportunity to evangelize to them in a non-threatening way.
James Squire recently played the role of Jesus in Grace Anglican Church’s production of The Mark Drama. Here he reflects on the 6-week learning process as well as his experiences during the rehearsals and the performances themselves.
These reflections might be helpful for you if you are considering playing Jesus in the drama, or just if you are interested in what goes into making a Mark Drama happen.
1. Stay humble. Ask God to guard your heart from pride.
It’s tempting to feel special and extra important, especially in the rehearsals when everyone calls you Jesus, or when in Section 5 everyone is literally cheering for you as Jesus enters Jerusalem.
Remember, “even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” You’re a humble jar of clay! (2 Cor 4:7)
2. Start memorising early.
There’s just too much content to cram it all in the last couple of weeks. You won’t learn it properly that way. God’s word is meant to be meditated upon, not crammed!
Follow the Mark Drama structure of one Section per week, starting 6 or 7 weeks out from performance date, and you’ll be right 🙂
3. Have a practice buddy/sibling/wife
I found the best way to practice as this: learn the lines by myself with my script, and then have someone whom you live with to test you. Give them your clipboard, while you act out and recite the lines. They can stop you when you make a mistake.
It’s even better if that person is also acting in the Mark Drama, because (1) it’s bonus learning for them, and (2) if they are learning the structure faithfully, they will be able to help you think through how to deliver Jesus’ lines to that particular audience.
For example, you might be concentrating so hard on remembering the lines that you forget to put expression in your voice. But they might point out how Jesus would have had compassion on the woman bleeding for 12 years, and how that needs to come through in the way you speak. (You’re an actor, not just regurgitating lines!)
4. Everywhere you go, always take your script with you!
Not the weather, but your clipboard. I highly, highly recommend putting your script in a clipboard. Leave it in your bag, so that wherever you go, if you have some extra time by yourself or with others who can help test you, you can get in some extra memory practice.
A great opportunity I found was in the car! I would drive and recite, and the passenger would have the clipboard in front of them, checking.
5. Focus on the script, but learn the structure as well, particularly for Section 1
Once you’ve nailed the lines, try to memorise as much of the structure as you can. As you’ll notice, lots of the time, a subsection will start oﬀ with a question or objection from the disciples or the Pharisees to which Jesus then responds. This is great, because it means you don’t need to know which scene is next.
However, sometimes Jesus cues the next scene change, and for these you need to know what comes next as you finish a section. You kinda need to wait till the rehearsals to know which scenes you cue, but you can still prepare for it by learning the structure.
Try to nail Section 1 structure in particular. This section has less of a pattern between its subsections (in my opinion), but as it’s the first section, if you nail it in the performance, it will boost your confidence for the rest of the Drama.
6. Take A6 flashcards to rehearsals and write cues on them
When you begin rehearsals, bring these flashcards with you.
Write at which points you need to say a line, or walk oﬀ in a particular direction, to drive the Drama into the next scene. This will help you immensely.
See an example below:
7. It’s a lot to memorise, but it’s not that hard
When you sink the hours in, it’s not that bad. You can get a lot done in 6 weeks! I suggest replacing whatever you’re reading for your daily Bible reading with Mark’s gospel:
Read the Bible passage for a Section
Read the relevant chapter of the Mark Experiment book
Then go over the Jesus script to figure out which lines you need to learn, and practice saying them aloud.
Lots of the stories and lines may be familiar to you already. Enjoy this opportunity to get to know our Lord and his compassion, authority, power and love better!
8. Honey, hot water and milk are fantastic for a ripped voice
The Mark Drama is pretty hard on the voice. In rehearsals you (especially as Jesus) will be talking a LOT for many hours on end. Also, you will need to scream when Jesus is crucified (heads up!) which is obviously hard on the voice too.
I highly recommend mixing some honey in with boiling water and drinking it. You may like to add tea, or milk. This will wonderfully soothe your voice.
9. Use the Mark Drama to point people to Jesus!
You’re acting the Mark Drama – great! Let me encourage you to use this opportunity for evangelism. Invite your non-Christian family or friends along. (They will probably say yes, because you are acting in it!) And pray for them that they might come to know Jesus as Lord.
10. You’re just pretending, but Jesus did it for real.
Remember, stay humble. After the performance, people will likely be very impressed with you. But please remember to point them to Jesus. After the performance, ask them which parts stood out to them or struck them the most.
Perhaps the conversation might go…
Audience member: “Wow! You were amazing! That was so powerful!”
You: “Thanks! Which part of the Drama stood out to you the most?”
Audience member: “Hmm… probably the part where Jesus died on the cross.”
You: “Yeah. It’s powerful, isn’t it. I was just acting it out, but Jesus did it for real. What a great Saviour we have!”
After a year’s hiatus, Mark Drama Australia are pleased to announce that we’re open again for business!
Over the last few months, MDA has been monitoring social distancing restrictions hoping for more opportunities for gospel proclamation through the Mark Drama. We continue to long for the world to cry out humbly like blind Bartimaeus and seek mercy from Jesus to follow him. But while social distancing has been strict and limiting, it’s not been possible to perform the Mark Drama without diluting the authenticity of its gospel story.
However, now that vaccines are rolling out across the country and social distancing is lifting, we are cautiously optimistic to go forth under the sovereign hand of God’s grace and relaunch Mark Drama productions where possible.
In God’s kindness, NSW has already seen to productions with full-house audiences. Dubbo Presbyterian and Moore College rejoiced to see the gospel hope re-enacted during the Easter season, and new requests have come through in VIC and WA for the next 6 months.
Of course, we’ve all become accustomed to last minute changes, border closures and snap lock-downs. So while we are inviting you to make enquiries and begin organising Mark Drama productions again, we cannot boast in our plans for tomorrow and depend upon the Lord’s will to succeed (James 4:13-17). Please continue to pray with us for God to be glorified during this plague. May many bow their knees in humble adoration of our God who came to serve and give up his life for many.
If your church or Christian organization is interested in putting on the Mark Drama, please contact your state director listed below.
New South Wales (and the ACT): Paul King – firstname.lastname@example.org Victoria: Dan Weaich – email@example.com Queensland: Pria Wahyudi – firstname.lastname@example.org Western Australia: Rosemary Thorburn – email@example.com NT, TAS, SA & all other enquiries: Jeanette Chin – firstname.lastname@example.org
Last year only one production of the Mark Drama went ahead across Australia, compared to the 25+ in 2019. As COVID restrictions begin to lessen, we are hoping to return to our pre-pandemic performance schedule.
The Steering Committee of Mark Drama Australia made the decision to halt productions of the performance until social distancing was lifted according to local state/territory allowances. While the restrictions have not yet fully lifted, two productions are going ahead, with the necessary COVID safety plans in place.
Dubbo Presbyterian Church will be performing the drama on the 27th and 28th of March, followed later in the year by a Moore College Production on the 30th of April and the 1st of May. Both productions will follow strict COVID-safe plans and have limited seating.
Decisions regarding productions are being made state by state, in line with different restrictions. We are hopeful that we will see productions resume in all area of Australia soon.
If your church or Christian organization is interested in putting on the Mark Drama, please contact your state director listed below.
New South Wales (and the ACT):
Paul King (NSW Co-ordinator): email@example.com
Ben Woodd (SA Co-ordinator): firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Weaich (VIC Co-ordinator): email@example.com
Over the last few months, the Mark Drama Australia Steering Committee has met to determine the best pathway forward for restarting productions during the covid pandemic. Given the closeness of audience members and actors is integral to each production, we have prayerfully made the following decision:
All Mark Drama performances will be postponed until social distancing is lifted according to our local state/territory government allowances.
As we consulted our State Coordinators, it became clear that the differing levels of restrictions and contamination across our states and territories meant that some areas of Australia will be able to put on productions earlier than others.
If your church or AFES group is interested in producing the Mark Drama in 2021, please do not hesitate to contact us. Even if you are in an area where restrictions may not be lifting for some time, we would love to start talking and praying with you.
Although our production schedule in 2020 has being considerably different from our expectations, we remain confident in the sovereignty of God and the saving power of his Word. And we remain convinced that Australia and the world deeply need to hear the message of the kingdom of God, to ‘repent and believe the good news’ (Mark 1:15).
Mark Drama Australia has made the difficult, yet easy, decision to postpone productions nationwide until at least September 2020. It was an easy decision to make for many reasons: government restrictions of large meetings are continuing, most churches across the country are only meeting online and the risk of infection is too high to justify putting on productions. But yet it was still a difficult decision to make as the Mark Drama Australia team believe strongly in the value of the Mark Drama in sowing gospel seeds.
There is much uncertainty in our world at the moment. But we have the certainty of Christ’s authority as revealed in the Bible. We are praying for Christians all across Australia and beyond, that God will continue to use them at this unusual time to spread his good news. While we hope to partner with churches and university groups in putting on productions very soon, we are confident that God’s word continues to be proclaimed by his people. More than ever we are convinced that this world needs the good news of the Kingdom of God.