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Dramatic faith

"Dramatic faith" Continued...

Issue: "Not over till it's over," Nov. 1, 2008

Q: So through going to church after having turned away from acting, you found new opportunities and openings.

Yes, but it wasn't something I was looking for. It was how everything worked. A Scripture that really sings to me is, "We were created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us."

Q: In terms of your professional calling, you didn't find it?

No, it found me.

Q: Of all the dramatic readings you've done, which has had the most impact on you?

I've been very intensely influenced by playing Screwtape. I probably did not take the presence of the devil or personal demons very seriously before doing him. I think understanding what Screwtape was trying to do to his patient, meaning me, made me really look at major areas of my life.

Q: What's a day like when you're on stage?

You have to conserve so much energy. Screwtape is a very demanding role. It's vocally demanding, it's physically demanding. I find that I have to gear everything to those 90 minutes. I get to the theater about an hour and a half beforehand and do a significant warm-up. My hours are different. I normally go to sleep around 11:00 or 11:30 but when I'm on stage it's 1:30 or 2 o'clock. Everything revolves around those 90 minutes.

Q: How do people in the secular world respond to Screwtape?

The reviews have been heartening. Many times when Christians get involved in theater there's hiding who you are. You use words like, "looking for the good, the true, the beautiful," those kind of things you can say and not reveal who you are. We've decided in our case to reveal where we're coming from. We present from a Christian worldview with the intent to engage a diverse audience. What I really like is when the people who have reviewed us recognize we don't have a hidden agenda. Some have commented that we've "hit the bullseye," that this will appeal to discerning atheists as well as the wide swath of religious folks. So I think for us it's good for us to be open about who we are.

Q: Is it hard playing an evil character like Screwtape?

I really enjoy it; I love playing Screwtape. But one of the reasons is because I love the reverse truth that comes through-and that becomes more effective the more I enjoy it. In terms of my own inner life, it has really revealed some of my own struggles: my own pride, my own desire to put people down, to raise myself up, all of those issues that are warring in my being.

Q: What have you learned about pride from playing Screwtape?

In Screwtape's world, the humble person is the most dangerous. Screwtape tells Wormwood, "Your man has become humble, have you drawn his attention to the fact? Smuggle in some gratifying reflection, 'By Jove, I'm being humble,' and immediately pride in his own humility will come in. If he tries to smother this new pride, make him proud of the attempt." I think that's a part that has been working for me.

Q: You said you dropped out of acting for a time when you didn't want to audition for soap commercials. How do think about that now? Could a soap commercial help you develop your skill set?

Sure. I'm not as egotistical about it now. Culture making is about building relationships, it's about being Christ in the place where you're put. You can make culture, you can make an impact, in so many ways. I do think you have to be discerning about what you are supporting-but in every place there's a chance for us to be salt and light because there's a lot of people that can be engaged.

Q: What are the biggest hurdles that you've faced?

Pride. In my case, my talent was ahead of my spiritual development. That is a real danger particularly for somebody like me who has a big personality and has certain skills and talents that could be useful in ministry. When you put someone like me up there too soon it's not good. I've had to take steps back now and pull back from a lot more public speaking. I've made a lot of mistakes. I've been overly demanding and prideful, thinking that it's all about me. The worst temptation is to do the right thing for the wrong reason.

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