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Easter Play Musings

posted Apr 1, 2010, 7:44 PM by Dan Dunbar   [ updated Apr 2, 2010, 5:18 AM ]
So, here we are in Baltimore working on the annual Easter play. How many years have I done this now? I don't know. I can hardly remember some of the plays at all, only certain moments in them. People talk about their favorite versions of the Easter play; the 9/11 play and the play set in Hell come up a lot.  

I liked the 9/11 play for many reasons. It was the first play that I pretty much wrote on my own and some of the characters in it were based on real people from my life. It also had some great performers who sang in it - Josh Sliva and Ruut Sallinen to name two. The play also featured my good friend Ben Tanguay as the young man trapped in one of the Twin Towers who called his friends and loved ones and shared the gospel and his love during his last minutes on earth. This play was the first time I played Jesus, and my favorite scene in the play was when the audience sees Ben's character, Dave Jensen, meeting Jesus in heaven while his sister, played by Ruut, sings a beautiful song called "Somewhere Beyond the Moon." The stage was lit in blue light and stars and clouds of dry ice swirled around the hems of our heavenly white gowns as we strolled into heaven; there was a beautiful full moon projected by a light on the wall behind Ruut, and Ben and I were just beyond it, like the song said. The meeting in heaven between our characters, Dave and Jesus, was so genuine; we were always happy to see each other, smile, and embrace before heading off to deeper heaven at the end of the song.

As much as I liked the 9/11 play, my favorite one still has to be the angels play which featured Dave Ryan, Susanna Tanguay, Jean-Marie Andrulonis, Dr. Wanda Clemmons, and Ruut Sallinen. Dave's portrayal of the unsaved boyfriend whose proposal is rejected by his Christian girlfriend, sticks in my mind, as do the portrayals by Dr. Wanda Clemmons and Jean-Marie Andrulonis of two angels named Shirley Goodness (the no-nonsense one) and Marcy (the kindly sort of ditsy one). Ruut's 30's era silver costume made her evil temptress all the more villainous, and the surprise twist of Dave's character not actually ending up in hell, but getting saved, made the story very sweet to me. I still get a chill every time Susanna sings Watermark's song "Holy," because it was the climactic heaven scene at the end of the play, and I remember walking down the aisle from the back of the chapel as Jesus and onto the stage followed by a legion of angels as she sang. It was the reverse of what we had done the year before when Aeriel Edler, singing "Alpha and Omega," led a band of white robed believers onto the stage where I, as Jesus, stood waiting for the spotless Bride of Christ. That was a magnificent ending too.

It seems as though every year people say that the present Easter play is "the best one yet." I think that it seems that way because God always inspires us to produce the exact play needed for "such a time as this," as the book of Esther says. He gives the idea, he sends the right actors for each role, and he knits our hearts together with His own to express what he wants said to both the unsaved and the Body of Christ.

What does this have to do with school or education? Ummmm... give me a sec here... Oh! Yeah! I think the application is that no two years are the same, whether you are producing an Easter play or teaching school. What works one year will not necessarily work the next. What works one day will not necessarily work the next! I think that a teacher needs to be attuned to the Spirit of God for each new group of students and adjust his teaching according to the needs he discerns in the class. In fact, a teacher has to be so sensitive that she adjusts by grace each day to what the still small voice of God whispers about the students. 

Sometimes the lesson plan has to be set aside to deal with the situation that has presented itself in the classroom. Some days, the lesson is not the one you have planned, but the one God has planned, and you've got to be ready to turn on a dime when you sense the Spirit's prodding to go in another direction. I am not saying that every other day a teacher should be whipping out the Bible and having a prayer meeting instead of math class. No. What I am saying is that we need to be sensitive to the needs of students and pick up on the cues they give us as to their states of mind, so that we can address whatever is preventing them from learning math. Sometimes you walk into the classroom and everyone is sad or angry or anxious. The teacher needs to recognize this and get something from God to help deal with this spirit, because nobody is going to benefit from the wonderful math lesson you have prepared if their minds are all preoccupied with something negative that happened at lunch.

Maybe this makes no sense. Blame it on my sleep deprivation from working on the Easter play, which is the best one yet - for this year, anyway. Antonio Delgado is a great Jesus and David Laflamme makes you believe he is Simon Peter. I hope you have seen or will get to see these men and the play this year called "Because He Lives."