News and Updates

No room at the door!

When Jesus returned home to Capernaum (Mark 2:1-2), it was reported that So Many people gathered to hear him, there wasn’t enough space! Not even at the door! The AFES group (the ECU) of Cumberland Campus, Sydney Uni, recently had this problem. Amy Fallows shares about God’s work during this time.

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The ECU presented the Mark Drama on campus at the end of Heightened Mission in September. It was an awesome time to see God’s providence. As part of the acting team, I got to spend 6 weeks learning and memorising the structure of Mark’s gospel. The actors then came together for a few rehearsals, before presenting the Mark Drama to an audience of people from our cohorts, families and other walks of life.

One awesome thing about learning Mark was that it meant I could dwell on God’s word even if I was in the car or going for a run, and I saw links I hadn’t noticed before – themes about Jesus’ authority and power, and how we should respond to His word with willing ears and hearts.

God was clearly at work though the performances, enabling fifteen inexperienced actors to present His gospel faithfully to an audience of almost 450 people (around 150 on the first night, and close to 300 on the second night. On the second night He brought so many people that we ran out of chairs!

We also had Richard Chin speak evangelistically from Mark’s gospel during heightened mission – his talks were excellent! In retrospect, running the Mark Drama and Heightened Mission talks at roughly the same time, meant that Mark Drama was the easier event to invite friends to.

Praise God for the people who came, and for enabling ECU students to have gospel conversations with people who came afterwards. Give thanks for the non-Christians who have started to read Mark’s gospel with their Christian friends since then, and pray that hearts would continue to be saved!

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Toongabbie Anglican perform The Mark Drama

In Western Sydney recently, The Mark Drama was performed at Toongabbie Anglican. Georgie Kidd shares what it was like to be involved in this production.

The Mark Drama had a profound impact on me when I saw it last year. I came to understand Jesus as not just a written ‘voice’ in the gospels, but a real, flesh-and-blood person of such humble, gentle and loving character – the kind of person I wanted to know more, even after being a Christian since the age of 6!

So when my Church, Toongabbie Anglican, said they were hosting a production, I was stoked to be given the opportunity to perform in a Mark Drama myself! Memorising Mark’s gospel wasn’t easy (in an instant world, long-term memory abilities are lacking) but it did find me daily reading God’s Word the way that it was originally meant to be read. Early Christians memorised the Bible and the gospel of Mark is actually structured for such a purpose!

Rehearsals were fun, exhausting, nerve-wracking and rushed! But I grew so close to the amazing people in my church! Across congregations and generations, we were all united around presenting the gospel to the audience in the best way possible. I was especially impacted by Paul, who played Jesus. I could tell that as Paul memorised Jesus’ words and actions in order to act them out, God was doing a transforming work in him to make him such a humble, gentle and servant-hearted friend to all.

Being a disciple helped me really understand the disciples as people. To know what it was like to be involved in Jesus’ ministry first-hand: the miracles, stepping out in faith, cowering in fear and being harshly (and deservedly) rebuked at times. It taught me what being a disciple really is – following Jesus in faith, taking Him at His Word and humbling yourself before him.

The Mark Drama is loads of fun. As a disciple, you set the scene with lots of biblical and topical jokes to help the audience feel at home in 1st Century Palestine. But Mark’s gospel is also deeply sombre. The audience – and the actors – are forced to really, really reflect on the crucifixion. We spend most of the drama figuring out who this Jesus guy is, and starting to really love him and realise how much he loves us… only to see him weeping in the garden and hung on a cross for our sins. As a Christian, I know that it was my sin that put him there. The darkness that filled the room as the echo of my screams of ‘crucify him!’ faded into silence… That was a moment when I truly reflected on how undeserving I am of this grace poured out on the cross.

After the drama, I received encouraging comments from young Catholic and non-Christian friends, as well as older Christian friends and family (including my grandpa who is mostly deaf!). They all loved experiencing the ‘realness’ of Jesus and the gospel in the Mark Drama. I have also had many opportunities since to use scenes/verses that I remember from Mark to encourage Christian brothers and sisters and to help non-Christian friends know who the person of Jesus is and what he offers to them – Praise God!

 

Coming up in Queensland!

Since 2014, The Mark Drama has been performed over 60 times across Australia, in NSW, VIC, WA, SA, QLD and Canberra. We’re grateful God has now raised up Andrew Lubbock to head up Mark Drama productions in Queensland.

So if you’re in the sunny state and eager to see what all the fuss is about, here are the details of Brisbane’s very first production of The Mark Drama:

Queensland Theological College (QTC)
369 Boundary Street, Spring Hill, Brisbane QLD 4000
Saturday 21 October 2017  from 7:30pm to 9:00pm
Sunday 22 October 2017  from 2:30pm to 4:00pm

‘Let us go to the next town’

Just as Christ’s priority was to visit the next town in order to preach of his coming Kingdom (Mark 1:35-39), Mark Drama Australia have been eager to preach Christ through The Mark Drama in regional NSW, and to build up resources in other parts of Australia.

We are therefore delighted to announce two upcoming productions of The Mark Drama in regional NSW:

CU University of New England, Armidale
Tuesday July 25th, 7:30-9pm
Wednesday July 26th, 7:30-9pm
at University of New England, Armidale

Orange Evangelical Church
Saturday July 29th, 8-9:30pm
Sunday July 30th, 6:30-8pm
More info at www.oechurch.org.au

New Appointments 

We are also delighted to announce the appointment of three new state co-ordinators:
Andrew Lubbock is our State Director for Queensland.
Rosemary Thorburn is our State Director for Western Australia.
Candice Bergamin is our State Director for Victoria.

If you would like to enquire about productions in your area, please email us through our contact page.

Who is this man?

Picture the scene. Fifteen actors and a two hundred and fifty strong audience. They sit on the edge in anticipation around a circular arena, readying themselves for a night of discovery. A scruffy looking guy in a plain white shirt dunks another guy. Then suddenly, a deep voice announces over the audience, “This is my Son who I love. With him I am well pleased”.

Welcome to Mark Drama – the story of the world’s most interesting man. It’s where 21st Century audiences witness miraculous signs – demons are defeated, the sick are healed, the inquisitive find answers – “Who is this man?”

Suddenly a ratchet girl, unsteady on her feet, stumbles in. All but one cowers away. “Unclean!” they cry. “Unclean!” Ignoring their warnings, the strong One embraces her. Only he is able to cleanse her of this infectious, repugnant leprosy. Everyone is stunned at his ability, asking “Who is this man?”

Suddenly, a storm hits. The rain is heavy. The wind is howling. Somehow, the actors turn on a convincing tempest. Meanwhile, a small fishing boat is flailing under the waves. “Don’t you care if we drown?!!” they cry, shaking the sleeping One awake out of desperation for their lives. His voice commands silence. All is calm.

“Who is this man?”

I sat in the front row during CBS’s recent production of the Mark Drama. It was an unmissable experience. From the calming of the storm, to the feeding of the 5000, this story gripped me like never before.

During the picnic with the 5000 I am mischievously asked if I prefer bread with sesame seeds or not. Then I’m suddenly thrown into a vineyard parable where thugs beat the One at my feet. I then turn at the sound of jeering sarcasm spitting from some hecklers at the back – “As if there’s life after death, Jesus!” But he defies their logic with their own theology – “I am the God of Abraham. I am the God of Isaac. I am the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead but of the living! You are badly mistaken”.

But when his friend betrays him, I wondered… He’d been so powerful over the demons, so powerful over the waves, so powerful over the dead. But as he’s seized, beaten and dragged before priests, kings, and governors he looks weak and pathetic. A crown of thorns is burrowed into his head as the crowd chant incessantly, thirsty for death. Who is this hated man?

Boom! A nail pierces his hands and feet. The cries of agony echo throughout the room. The space is suddenly overshadowed in darkness. A feeble voice splutters, “Why!?… Why have you forsaken me?”

Avoiding spoilers, this drama asks lots of questions: Who is Jesus? Is there really life after death? Is it true?

At the end of the performance, our main director, Warren Chan, leaps to his feet and asks everyone, “Who is this man?”

If you’ve not seen The Mark Drama, you must. For some, you’ll be challenged to consider who Jesus is. For others, you’ll be filled with thankfulness to God. For others, it’ll simply be an entertaining evening. This isn’t a traditional stage drama. This is a re-enactment of how God came into the world to save sinners.

 

CBS-MDCast and Crew of Mark Drama at New College, UNSW. Picture: Samuel Collis-Bird

Article written by Roydon Ng

Move over Godspell!

Press Release from Jannali Anglican Church. Originally published in The Leader.

Move over Godspell, make way Jesus Christ Superstar, a new theatre spectacular is in town.

It’s called The Mark Drama and it’s set to wow local audiences next month when The Jannali High School hall is transformed into downtown Nazareth, ancient Jerusalem and the banks of the Sea of Galilee.

It’s an amazing story that played out more than 2,000 years ago but, since then, has inspired countless songs, books, poems, musicals and Hollywood blockbusters.

It’s a story of hope, transformation and salvation. It’s the central story of the Bible.

The Mark Drama is the re-telling of the life of Jesus as told by the gospel writer Mark. Started 16 years ago in Austria, The Mark Drama has been performed in 25 countries to rave reviews and will premiere in the Sutherland Shire on May 7th and 8th.

“It’s brilliant!” says Director Jeanette Waddell. “It’s a raw, amateur, no-frills kind of drama but it really is brilliant. It’s an authentic presentation transporting you in simple ways back to the streets of Nazareth to meet Jesus. You see joy and laughter, anger and hatred, tears and weeping. But most of all, you see Jesus Christ – his generous love of the outcast, his powerful authority over the wind and the waves, his willingness to suffer so that we might be saved.” 

Local performer and lawyer Gareth Martin plays the role of Jesus alongside a cast of fourteen.

“It’s a daunting challenge because Jesus is God,” Mr Martin says. “I want to portray Him as accurately as possible and deliver His message as honestly as I can. I’m hoping people will really engage with the story, especially people who aren’t familiar with the gospel of Mark.”

There are several things that make The Mark Drama unique. The performers haven’t learnt lines. Instead they’ve just learnt the order of events of Mark’s gospel and will deliver them ad-lib. 

Rehearsals begin two days before the performances and it’s all set in-the-round, without traditional costumes or lighting.

“Theatre-in-the-round organises the audience into concentric circles, with a small area in the centre for the main action,” the Director explains. “It’s quite an immersive experience for the audience as the acting also takes place in the aisles and amidst the crowd.”

Jannali Anglican Church has organised two performances to give the community the opportunity to see and experience the story of Jesus differently.

“The original Jesus is far more impressive and relevant than some of the imitations around today,” Jannali Anglican’s Senior Minister Neil Fitzpatrick says.  “The Mark Drama is a creative way of getting behind the religious and cultural impressions of Jesus to the real man who walked and talked as one of us.”  

 

Booking details:

The Mark Drama will be performed at The Jannali High School Hall. Saturday 7th May, 7:30pm. Sunday 8th May, 6pm. Tickets can be purchased at TryBooking.com/190303.

For more info: contact Jannali Anglican church on 9528 9130 or via the church website jannalianglican.org.au. To organise a cast photo: call the producer, Tracey Kirkland 0414 297 541.

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Thoughts from Sydney Uni

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

Declan
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.

Alex
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.
Adam
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.
Toby
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!
Jack
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

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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.

See the Mark Drama this week!

We’ve just had our final performance at St Thomas’s North Sydney this evening. It was a wonderful show! Many noticed the authority of Jesus’ words to command death to flee and life to re-enter. The old, wooden-floored hall had brilliant acoustics. A number marked the weighty silence echoing after the ferocious storm at sea, commenting on how tangibly it conveyed Jesus’ power to calm our fearful hearts.

If you missed the performances at St Thoms, there are four others this week you can see!

Tickets are selling fast so act now!

The Mark Drama at the University of Sydney

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Wednesday, Sept 23rd
Thursday, Sept 24th
At Old Teachers’ College Assembly Hall
Doors open at 7pm, 90min performance from 7:30pm
Tickets ($10) and details can be found here.

The Mark Drama at Epping Presbyterian

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Saturday, Sept 26th
Sunday, Sept 27th
Doors open at 7pm, 90min performance from 7:30pm
At Epping Presbyterian Church Hall, 9 Bridge Street, Epping
Free admission.
See website for details.

New Productions for 2015!

Mark Drama Australia are excited to announce that St Thomas’s North Sydney and Epping Presbyterian are organising their own productions of the Mark Drama for 2015. So if you missed out seeing the Mark Drama at Moore College or Gladesville, book these dates into your diary before something else comes up:

St Thomas’s North Sydney: September 19th and 20th

Epping Presbyterian: September 26th and 27th

Another five productions are being planned in various Churches and Christian groups across Sydney and the wider Sydney area. Stay tuned for more information by either liking us on Facebooksubscribing to this blog roll, or asking us to add your email to our regular newsletter.