A well-known set designer and Seattle Pacific University theater professor, Dr. Don Yanik, shared a story with me about a director he worked with. A question was posed to the director: who are the top five Christian theater directors? The director’s response: I’ll tell you the top five directors, and you tell me why not one is a Christian.
As an artistic and creative person, this story gave me pause. Up till then my own personal talents had only been used within the church’s doors. Had I in some way buried my talents instead of doubling them? Like the master in the Parable of the Talents, did God desire for me to invest those talents for greater impact?
So I prayed. It took me awhile to take the steps of obedience, but God provided the opportunities, and now my sphere of influence has grown in the artistic community. I hone my craft. I try to be excellent in all I do. I pray for my fellow artists. I am a listening ear when they share their life stories. By the Holy Spirit I am a voice for Truth and the Way and the redeeming love of Jesus Christ.
In a classical Christian school, students are taught to thoughtfully and critically analyze ideas, opinions, philosophies, and schools of thought through a Biblical lens. God’s world is wonderful! There is not anything in existence that was not designed by Him. He is a master Creator and Storyteller and has written – is writing – the greatest love story ever told, the redemption of creation through his son, Jesus.
The Church as a whole hasn’t always championed theater. For a long while, Christ’s light was mostly extinguished from the dramatic field. However well meaning church leaders were, they forgot that God had already spoken in this area, and we were to find out how to use theatrical storytelling for his glory. Francis Schaeffer said in his book, Art and the Bible,
“Christians…ought not to be threatened by fantasy and imagination. Great painting is not “photographic”: think of the Old Testament art commanded by God. There were blue pomegranates on the robes of the priest who went into the Holy of Holies. In nature there are no blue pomegranates. Christian artists do not need to be threatened by fantasy and imagination, for they have a basis for knowing the difference between them and the real world “out there.” The Christian is the really free person—he is free to have imagination. This too is our heritage. The Christian is the one whose imagination should fly beyond the stars.”
This excites me as a drama teacher at Providence. For two or three months a year, we get to dissect a play or musical. We see the struggle, the humanity, the failure, the growth, and the triumph displayed by characters who resemble us in our own humanity and failures. We get to hone our craft and be excellent in our performance. We get to share that discovery with our school community and celebrate yet another way God has gifted us as creative beings.
For many students, theater may just be an opportunity to improve communication skills, build confidence, learn teamwork, or develop emotional intelligence. And drama is an excellent conduit for all these skills. But for some, it may be the whisper of a calling and a lifelong ministry. It may be the training ground to take a great piece of artistic work that doesn’t mention God at all, and find in it beauty and redemption to share with the world. It may be their avenue to shine Christ’s light in dark places.
One of these students might even be one of the next top five theater directors, who just so happens to be a Christian.