Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Smith's Delirious? Suits Auctioned to Benefit CompassionArt

In celebration of the release of the Delirious? Farewell Show live DVD/bluray/2CD, lead singer Martin Smith will auction three stage suits/ jackets that he has worn live during the last few years of touring with the Christian rock band. All profits from the auctions will go to CompassionArt, creating freedom from poverty through charitable projects around the world.

Martin’s grey suit [seen above] features in the Delirious live DVD ‘My Soul Sings – Live from Colombia’ – it is the suit that he is wearing in the DVD, and in the cover artwork. He wore this suit at concerts around the world, including when the band played to hundreds of thousands of people in India as you can see in the stage photo. This photo also shows the word ‘Komfort’ on the back of the jacket, which is word created from the title of the band’s last studio album ‘Kingdom of Comfort’. Bid on the grey jacet here.

Martin’s white suit (left) was used extensively during The Mission Bell tour in the UK in 2006 and the Worship Revolution Tour in the USA in 2007. The band had each white suit specially made, with red trimmings and features. Martin’s suit has a red zipped vent in each sleeve, and red zip crosses on the back of the jacket and the sides of the trousers. Bid on the white suit here.

Martin wore the black and red military-style jacket below during the band’s final UK and Europe tour in November 2009. Consequently, it is featured in the Delirious ‘Farewell Show’ live DVD and Blu-ray that has just been released in 2010. On the back of the jacket is sown a gold ‘History Maker’ logo that was the theme of the final tour and the name of the Greatest Hits albums released in 2009. Bid on the red and black suit here.

The auction will close on the 8th of July (see ebay for time). Bids can only be accepted through ebay, and the auctions are subject to ebay's terms and conditions.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Playwright Corthron, Actor McLean To Receive 'Lights are Bright on Broadway' Awards

Photo left: Kia Corthron by Aaron Epstein; Photo right: Max McLean as Screwtape. Courtesy of Fellowship for the Performing Arts
Playwright Kia Corthron and actor Max McLean have been named recipients of 2010 “The Lights are Bright on Broadway” awards presented annually by Masterwork Productions, Inc. to individuals and organizations making a difference in the Broadway community through faith.

Corthron (Breath, Boom; Force Continuum), is being honored for her play A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick, which ran last spring at Playwrights Horizons (presented as a co-production with The Play Company and Culture Project) for its positive representation of an African preacher-in-training as he interacts with his host family and a troubled orphan in a drought-stricken rural American community where he studies religion and water conservation.

“I'm so honored A Cool Dip was chosen for the Masterwork award - but when I initially found out, I must admit I was startled, Corthron said. “Just as I was when 10-year-old Josh King, who played Tay in my play, walked into his audition and the first thing he said was, ‘I prayed for a play like this - a Christian play!’ Before that, I had never thought of A Cool Dip as a Christian play - or a non-Christian play. I had just written the character of Abebe as honestly as I could, and he seemed to be someone who would be wholly committed to his faith. At least one voice (among the many providing input along a play's path from germination to opening) suggested that the dramatic arc lead to Abebe's questioning his faith. That never felt right to me, and frankly is a bit of a cliché in plays wherein Christianity plays a role. (Abebe does question himself but never his faith.)
"There is widespread intolerance - a sense of threat - in fundamentalist Christianity regarding people exercising individual freedoms, just as there is widespread intolerance - a sense of threat - in left-progressive and artistic circles regarding Christianity in any form. I have people close to me who are members of both flanks (as well as many in between), and while it was not my conscious intention, I would be truly gratified to know that A Cool Dip may have fostered some new understanding and compassion,” she said.

McLean is being honored for his portrayal of C.S. Lewis’ famous demon extraordinaire Screwtape, who coaches his nephew demon in training about the art of spiritual warfare. McLean co-wrote the adaptation of The Screwtape Letters with director Jeffrey Fiske.

“This comes as quite a surprise, McLean said of the award. “As a Christian who tries to work daily to live an integrated life of faith and work, I am delighted to receive this recognition from Masterwork for our work on C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.”

McLean’s award will be presented following the Monday, June 28 performance of the show which is running Off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre. Corthron will receive her award June 30 at Playwrights Horizons.

“We’re excited to be able to honor examples of people making a difference through faith in the Broadway community,” said Lauren Yarger, executive director of Masterwork Productions. “Kia’s play helped promote an understanding of faith while Max’s helps people understand why they have such trouble with it!”

Last year's recipients were playwright Dan Gordon for Irena's Vow on Broadway, and Radio City Rockette Cheryl Cutlip, founder of Project Dance.
Masterwork Productions, Inc. is a faith based, non-profit organization which helps Christians and churches reach out through the performing arts by producing shows and events, booking artists, providing Broadway and theater reviews (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com) and training at workshops and conferences. For more information, visit http://www.masterworkproductions.org/.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book Review: Jonathan Edwards on True Christianity by Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney

Jonathan Edwards Stands the Test of Time; Do We Stand the Test of True Christianity?
By Lauren Yarger
There’s nothing like a good dose of Jonathan Edwards, the 18th century New England preacher who made sermons like “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” famous and helped propel the Great Awakening period in the United States, to get you back on track spiritually.

An informative series of books published by Moody Press gives readers a chance to go a little deeper into the preacher’s thought with “Jonathan Edwards: Lover of God,“ Jonathan Edwards on Beauty,” “Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell”, “Jonathan Edwards on the Good Life” and “Jonathan Edwards on True Christianity (2010).”

I sampled the latter title, assuming that it would have current application given the confusion that can occur these days when someone defines a Christian. I was right. Edwards, with the help of authors Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney, speaks to the reader about what it means to really be Christians and even though some 300 years have passed since the preacher voiced his thoughts from his Northampton, MA pulpit, we still need to hear what he has to say.

“Many … people are likely in evangelical churches that ostensibly teach biblical doctrine, and yet they hold views on various spiritual and moral subjects that directly conflict with the biblical witness. If their beliefs conflict with true Christianity, it is likely that their lives conflict as well,” the authors write.

This same concern is voiced by Edwards in writings, reprinted, followed by a discussion of pertinent points. It’s a nice combination which gives the essence of Edwards’ thoughts without asking the reader to digest a whole sermon. The authors come off a little preachy, but concerned, and most of what they say is rater convicting, just as Edwards is.

My favorite section was entitled “The Marks of True Conversion.” It’s a great way to ask yourself some pointed questions about just how seriously you take your faith.

His “marks” of a true Christian conversion include:
 An increased esteem for Jesus. He becomes Messiah, not just someone who lived a long time ago who was a good teacher.
 Hatred of sin. No more excuses for behaving contrary to God’s will.
 Love of the Word. It’s not just a book. It’s the actual word of God.
 Love for truth and the things of God. Abiding in Him.
 Love for believers. This should be overflowing and is lacking in many congregations today, the authors lament.

The truth of Edwards’ words is a challenge to take our commitment to a new level.

“… many professing Christians are floundering, “ Strachan and Sweeney write. “They know basically nothing about the bible or Christianity, they struggle to attend church, they hold beliefs in direct contradiction to the Scripture, and they neither witness nor have even the most basic success in educating their children in the things of God.”

It’s a call to get serious.

Information about the series “Jonathan Edwards on True Christianity” can be found here. Just input the title into the search. You can purchase the books on this site as well.

A free reviewer's copy of this book was provided by Pure Publicity.

Threads Theater Co. Presents Babette's Feast

Babette's Feast, a timeless tale of food and love, will be presented by Threads Theater Company beginning Wednesday evening at International Arts Movement, 3rd floor, 38 West 39th St., NYC.

The production is conceived and developed by Abbie Killeen and written by Rose Courtney, adapted from the short story by Isak Dinesen. Quin Gordon directs.

Performances are:
June 16-19 and June 21-26 at 8 pm
June 19 and 26 at 3 pm
July 15 @ 1:30 pm
Tickets are $15. Standing Room is available at the door for $10
Special: Opening Night tickets $18 (including light reception)

Babette- Abbie Killeen*
Martine- Rose Courtney*
Philippa- Rachel Wallace
Papin- Kamel Boutros
Narrator #1- Hal Robinson*
Narrator #2- Meera Rohit Kumbhani
Narrator #3- James Russell
Narrator #4- William Connell*
Narrator #5- Matteo Eckerle
Narrator #6- Darrie Lawrence*

*Actor appears courtesy of Actors Equity Association

Production Team:
Production Manager - Misti Wills
Designer - Bobby Bradley
Costume Designer - Kim Prentice
Stage Manager - Jessica Pecharsky*
Asst. Stage Manager - Jarrel Lynch
Asst. Stage Manager - Kevin Gomez
Director's Assistant - Annie Field
Company Manager - Frank Mihelich

* Member of Actors Equity Association
Approved Equity Showcase

For tickets and more information, visit http://www.theatermania.com/new-york/shows/babettes-feast_168083/,

Threads Theater Company seeks to produce theatrical performances which demonstrate the power of live theater to engage, inspire, and connect people.

Christians in Theater Arts Gather in NY

Encounter the Sacred in Theater Next Month in NY
Space is limited for the 2010 Christians in Theatre Arts symposium being held next month in New York City, so don't miss your chance to be part of this great time of instruction, interaction and NY theater.

"Encountering the Sacred" offers a number of performances with feedback session with the creators, panel discussions with industry professionals. Sessions and events will be held at various venues July 16-17.
Find out how God is a part of theater. For more information, visit http://cita.org/site/?page_id=11.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Broadway Underground Taps Back July 5

The next presentation of Broadway Underground will be held Monday, July 5 at 8pm at BB King Blues Club & Grill , 237 West 42 St. (between Broadway and 8th Avenue). Tickets are $12.50 and can be purchased at www.goldstar.com .

For a review of this exciting celebration of dance, click here. For more information, visit www.broadwayunderground.org.

Ad Deum Holds Intensive in New England

Dance to the Glory of God
Join Ad Deum Dance Company July 11-16 for a unique dance gathering, offering excellence in dance training and a place for spiritual growth at the Campus of the Future C.S. Lewis College, in Northfield, MA. Dancers will have opportunity to train under professionals while enjoying the serenity and heritage of the D.L. Moody-founded campus. 31 Moody St. Northfield, MA 01354.

Ad Deum is comprised of dance artists that have come to Houston from around the world. They have toured the USA, Europe and Asia, performing the works of many amazing choreographers such as Steve Rooks (Martha Graham), Caleb Mitchell (Houston Ballet) Hope Boykin (Alvin Ailey), Bill Wade (Inlet Dance Theatre) and Stephen Wynne (Talk Dance Co.). Their mission is to serve through their lives and talents and offer hope and inspiration in a troubled world where artists can work as ambassadors of healing, restoration and cultural reform.

For information about the classes, auditons and how to register, visit http://danceaddeum.com/id60.html

Teaching Faculty to include:
  • Randall Flinn, Artistic Director, has worked as a dance educator and choreographer with Cirque Du Soleil, Ballet Magnificat, Houston Ballet Academy, Houston’s High School for Performing Arts, Houston Met Dance Company, Project Dance, Belhaven College, Hillsong Church-Sydney, YWAM Schools of the Arts, Xaris Danz Europe and Revolve Dance Company.
  • Daniel Cossette– Dancer and mime artist with Ad Deum, former mime with Mimeistry International, and director of Ambassador Arts. Daniel has performed in prelude to the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, Dance Houston, for the Big E, Project Dance, and also teaches for the Houston Ballet Outreach Department.
  • The Ad Deum Company Dancers: Emily Jones, Lara Lanphier, Esther van Baren, Stephanie Wingard, Sarah Yarbrough.

Episcopal Actors' Guild Offers Night of Talent, Fun

The next installment of the episcopal Actors' Guild's popular entertainment, The YO PRO Variety Show, will be held Thursday, June 10 at guild hall, 1 East 29th St., MYC, beginning with a 7 pm happy hour proceeding the 8 pm show.

The show that features "something for everyone" will feature:

  • Colin, Juliet & Lily DePaula - Singers
  • Luke Thayer - Comedian
  • Jeremy Sierra - Essayist
  • RJ Williams - Magician/Mentalist
  • Christina Aranda - Singer

Taking you through the night will be your hosts, Karen and Matt. There is a $10 suggested donation which benefits Performers in Need. A wine and cheese reception will follow. Space is limited. RSVP to 212-685-2927, or matt@actorsguild.org.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Feature: Max McLean in The Screwtape Letters

Karen Eleanor Wight at Toadpipe and Max McLean as Screwtape.
Photo courtesy of Fellowship for the Performing Arts.

The Art of Spiritual Warfare, One Show at a Time
By Lauren Yarger
As Christians, most of us try to avoid the temptations of hell and trust that a personal relationship with Christ will keep us from ever having to experience its torments in person, but actor Max McLean is a regular visitor to the place eight times a week, sometimes twice a day, and he relishes the experience.

OK, so it’s not really hell. It‘s Cameron Anderson's set design for The Screwtape Letters, playing at New York’s Westside Theatre, but for 90 minutes, McLean, who stars as Screwtape, and his untrustworthy demon sidekick, Toadpipe (played by Karen Eleanor Wight), recreate some hellish --and witty -- scenarios that give a glimpse into the enemy’s strategy to lead humans away from God and down the path to hell.

McLean has been bringing C.S. Lewis’ chief demon to life for some time now. The production started in New York in 2006, then toured to a number of cities across the country including sold-out runs in Chicago and Washington, DC where the creative team fined tuned it in preparation for its current Off-Broadway run.

“It was always the plan: to learn along the way and bring it back to New York,” McLean said.

Bringing the Lewis classic to life was no easy task. McLean collaborated on the script with Jeffrey Fiske, who also directs, to condense the piece into something that would work on stage while retaining the author’s voice and words.

“We had to find a way to make it understandable so people could get it the first time without having to think about it,” McLean said.

He first had been exposed to C.S. Lewis shortly after becoming a Christian in his 20s. “Surprised by Joy” was over his head, he admits, but in “The Screwtape Letters,” he recognized himself in the first chapter.

The writing team received the rights to create a stage adaptation from Lewis' estate in 2005 and began crafting an “oral speech” script for Screwtape, still one of the author's best known works (along with the Narnia series and “Mere Christianity.”)

“We knew if we did the piece right, it would pay dividends,” McLean said.

They enhanced the character of Screwtape (McLean’s portrayal skillfully ranges from diplomatic statesman to human-flesh-hungry devourer) and amplified the demon’s techniques for temptation.

They didn’t want Screwtape trapped behind a desk writing letters for the duration, so they added Toadpipe, who makes a “cameo” appearance in the book, to interact with him. Wight, vibrantly costumed by Michael Bevins, actually doesn’t have any lines, but communicates through a series of grunts. Her background in pantomime and improv enhances the performance, which earned her the 2008 DC Theatre Scene Award for Best Female Actor.

In the play, Screwtape offers advice and suggestions to his nephew, Wormwood, a junior demon, who has been assigned his first human subject. Each missive concludes with “Your Affectionate Uncle, Screwtape,” sealed with the crackling of brimstone and hastily posted by Toadpipe via a suction tube post box connecting the hellish headquarters with the world above.

So is it difficult embodying a demon who worships “our father below” and refers to God as “the enemy?”

“I’m sad to say,” McLean repsponds with a guilty laugh, “I love playing him.” The joy comes from the message of Lewis’ words and the knowledge that they are affecting people who see the show.

Indeed, there are several points in the show when group “aaaahs” and “hmmmms” can be heard as folks recognize the schemes of the devil. McLean has had "ah ha" moments himself sometimes during his daily personal devotional times when he discovers that he has been the victim of the same techniques (like distracting humans with food) he employs as Screwtape while on stage.

Because everyone can relate to the humans being tempted, the play has been enjoyed by people from all religious and cultural backgrounds. Spiritual warfare and art, it seems, are things we all understand, just like McLean was able to relate to the book even though his faith was very new.

We all have knowledge of God that we repress and art hits imagination, where that knowledge rests, he said.

“If you do art well, you’ll get good results.”

Good doesn’t begin to describe the show, which has received very favorable reviews from critics where it has toured and in New York, as well as from audiences.

Those surveyed consistently call the show “smart, witty and funny.”

“We’re pleased they’re in that order,” McLean quipped.

Mostly what he hopes he’ll hear audiences say after seeing the show is, “Could this be true?”

“If they ask that question, we’ve done our job,” he said.

So what’s next? He and Fiske are working on a four-character stage adaptation of “The Great Divorce,” also by Lewis.

For a review of the production of The Screwtape Letters running at the Westside Theatre, 407 West 43rd St., NYC, click here. For tickets, and more information about McLean and his Fellowship for the Performing Arts company, visit http://www.fpatheatre.com/screwtape.

Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

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 (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

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 masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

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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