Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Can the Speaker Trump Your Drama?

We reprint this great piece from Sandy Boikian of Christian Theatre Scripts. Visit her site at

A Good Rule of Thumb
To have a speaker close the show, or not to have a speaker close the show?

That is the question.

You've just presented a powerful piece. As the house lights come up, people are wiping their eyes and blowing their noses. "Oh, thank You, Lord," you utter, pretty choked up yourself.

Then the speaker goes forward to wrap up the show and talks. And talks. And talks. Zzzzzzzzzzz. You've lost the audience.

I admit I have gone back and forth over the years on whether or not to have a speaker close the show. I used to insist on it. What if there was someone in the audience who was ready to receive Christ, and we denied him/her that opportunity?

Yet, on more than one occasion, I have sat in audiences where the closing was counterproductive (as in the example above), even manipulative.

Years ago I attended a two-hour musical about King David. Then the closing speaker got up. I can't even tell you how long he spoke, because I quietly slipped out after 40 minutes (I kid you not). Today when I think about that show, do I recall how I identified with the main character? Do I recall God's redemptive love in David's life? Do I get warm fuzzies over the memory of the music, the humor, the message? No. All I feel is dread and the icky aftermath of manipulation.

In general, here is a good rule of thumb to go by:

If a speaker is wrapping your show, make sure he keeps it brief. Brief means two minutes (five at the most). A sermonette is a turnoff ~ especially for (but not limited to) nonbelievers. During the two minutes your speaker can invite people who would like prayer or want to hear more about Jesus to see him or a cast member afterward. (Of course there are exceptions to the two-minute rule. If you feel God's prompting to speak, by all means, speak! But it should not be the general plan.)

Let the play speak for itself.

Mark 4:33-35 tells us that although Jesus explained the parables to His disciples, He let His "audiences" walk away to ponder and chew on the story.

Be sure your message is presented ~ strong and solid ~ in the performance. And then let your audience walk ... chewing away.

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Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light ( and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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