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The Theatre is my Cathedral

Why do you do what you love?

I feel like my family has always been in touch with this key question. Since I was very young my parents have always told me "Do a job that you will love getting up every day for." My dad is a passionate biology professor, receiving opportunities to travel the world and observe animals are his passions. My mom teaches freshman biology labs guiding students (sometimes with tough love) through their first year of college. They both  love their jobs. But their was something behind it that fueled them and what I think makes their work high quality is that they are doing it for God. They back up science with the Bible, they show how we are stewards of the earth, and they inspire young men and women to share their knowledge of creation with the earth as Christians (in a world where teaching evolution and believing in Christ do not often go hand in hand).

I experienced this in my industry in New York this year. After being at ACU for three and a half years constantly around believers I was accustomed to people believing and striving towards excellence because of their faith in God. In New York this was not always the case. I noticed a distinct difference between actors who were strong in their religion to those who were not. Those who did not really believe or practice any faith were not performing for any reason but to glorify themselves. To get ahead or to show off. There are exceptions of course, for instance some had a cause or group they represented and they were driven to promote it/them. But for the most part I saw those who believed in nothing perform selfishly. They would make acting choices that made themselves look better to the audience, they would try and sexualize themselves making "sexy eyes" even when the song or scene didn't call for it, and they were obsessed with success that they didn't care who they brought down to get there. It made me wonder "Once this is over and you can't perform for yourself anymore, then who are you?"

The theatre is my cathedral. My performance is tied to my beliefs.

Now this is where things get tricky. I do not believe because I am a Christian actor that I should limit myself on a performance because of language, consensual sexual content, or violence. Of course I have a line on certain things that I will not perform under any circumstances, but the three above I would perform. Does this desecrate my Cathedral. I do not believe so. Because while a theatre is my cathedral it is also a mirror. It is a mirror of society. To cover up the mirror does not change the thing that the mirror reflected. You just covered up the reflection. Does the average society have language in their every day lives? Yes. Do people have consensual sex? Mhm. Before marriage even???? Be honest with yourselves. What about violence? Society is not exempt from that either. I believe that while I play roles that harbor these characteristics, these characteristics are not me. They are my character. And if I do not play what the playwright intended then a) it is a lie and false reality to think that society does not struggle or derive pleasure from these things, and b) it might even be against copywright to censor them. I'm looking at you ACU Board. Here is my biggest point about this issue that I make with Christians that passionately confront me about this. If the Bible did not censor it then why should we?
Image result for Williams Performing Arts Center ACUI believe that if I refuse a role based on the above allegations I am also missing a valuable opportunity to minister to people who do not believe the same as me. Ministering does not mean I preach, but if asked about my faith that opens a door to a discussion. If I put myself in situations that harbor no risk then I am perpetuating a stereotype that Christian actors are guarded and unwilling to be open. I understand the fear to be sucked into temptations but if I surround yourself with an environment that doesn't test me that's comfortable, complacent, then am I doing anything? My goal is to be open. To love every single one of my cast mates. To open doors to conversations about differing religions and finding peace. I truly believe the theatre is the best place to have this transforming experience.
But past ministry and past politics:

I believe God gave me my voice. I believe God gave me my body and mind to pick up and dance choreography. I am nothing without these gifts God has blessed me with. I believe God gave me a passion for theatre to tell amazing stories. To love audiences and to love the people that are performing with me. Theatre tackles tough subjects in a way we understand. Where there is love there is God and where there is passion there is a mission. This gives me a purpose to continue auditioning for that one show that could make a difference in someone's life. I'm fueled by the community that is created in a cast and feel that God has placed me there to be an example, to be kind, and to love. I have seen actors who harbor this belief that a higher power brought them to the stage, distinguish their performances from all the rest. It is because while some have a hard time bearing their soul, religious people wear it on their sleeve. Now I know I am definitely in that category of liberal actors but I have been touched by many performances that helped me see things differently. I think this can be so valuable in the theatre.

That is what is behind my performance.

Picture: ACU's William Performing Arts Center. My Home. Credit to ACU's Website


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