“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice upon finding herself in a strange world after descending down the rabbit hole. So, too, was my experience working onstage and behind the scenes with local theater troupes.
Like Alice, I did not anticipate what I found down the rabbit hole. Either I had forgotten what theater was like, or it had changed quite a bit since I participated in college and community theater productions. Actually, I had almost no expectations, and still I was shocked! I definitely did not expect to observe the many perversions that seem to exist in the theater of today.
Just as I do before entering any ministry, I pray for guidance before I even audition so that I know it is His will that I take my tiny candle to shine into the vast darkness. When I am cast in the productions, I take it as confirmation that I am where I am supposed to be. And, strangely enough, I have been cast in choruses of fifteen- to twenty-something-year-old girls when in reality I am thirty to forty years their senior.
Working in the theater really was a dark wonderland with many oddities to behold. Without the Lord constantly rekindling my flame, the negative forces of Wicca, atheism, alternative lifestyles, alcoholism, mental instability, monstrous egos, vanity, loose morality, homosexuality, and profuse use of profanity would have snuffed out my little candle. The words that came out the mouths of young ladies would have made sailors blush! “10 a.m. language, not 10 p.m. language” was the constant admonition of the costuming coordinator when other cast members were in the costume room in my presence. I sat and sewed and smiled while they seethed.
Even with the eternal reminders, I did have to listen to more coarse language than I cared to. I did draw the line with those who insisted on taking the Lord’s name in vain. In the case of one girl who seemed hell-bent on using God’s name inappropriately in my presence, I finally asked her to stop. She said that it didn’t matter because she didn’t believe in God, and I said, “But I do, and it is offensive to hear you denigrate His name.” Surprisingly, she stopped!
I felt so ill-prepared to deal with the situations in which I found myself. There seemed to be so little that I could do to make an impact upon the darkness I encountered. Fortunately, the Lord equips us for the tasks He would have us do. And only through prayer did I know when to speak up, and to whom I should speak, and when to remain silent and pray. I had to call on Him to know how to minister to the needs of His people.
When you think about it, the theater ministry is not much different than a street ministry. Both groups are really needy in some way or other. Some of the needs can be ministered to, such as providing food, prayer, encouragement, and an eager ear to hear their stories. Often when we begin to minister to the needs of those who don’t know the Lord, it is through food and conversations. I shared bread, desserts, and other food from the food distribution ministry in which I also participated. I made a point to compliment those who had achieved a personal best and encouraged those who were down or frustrated.
It seems often when we are sent on a mission by the Lord, mine being working among the pagans, heathens, and deviants in the theater world, that things start to fall apart and go awry. And then came the persecution and rejection. Some of it was dangerous, as I was nearly pushed off platforms and into set pieces several times, intentionally. I was completely obscured from the audience’s view a great number of times by a few cast members who went off blocking and decided that it was much more important for them to be seen. Some of the persecution manifested in smaller ways that hurt my feelings. I overheard gossiping and girls being catty and bad mouthing me to each other, and my assigned dressing room area was always taken over and cluttered by other girls’ belongings, whereas they seemed to respect others’ assigned spaces. Someone even erased my name from the dressing room door. I was ignored at best and treated with disdain by others. I felt rejected by most of the cast and crew. They all seemed to know that I was a Christian and that I didn’t embrace their perversions.
As much as it hurts our flesh to deal with not being popular or accepted, that’s often how we know we are on the right track when we are sent into the wilderness to do the Lord’s work. The enemy doesn’t want to lose his foothold on those who have strayed or those who have always lived in darkness. During the three-month course of the rehearsals and performances, I wanted to give up and quit many times. The darkness was so overwhelming! Toward the end of the productions, it became downright frightening and frustrating to continue in the face of persecution.
It was only by His grace and the help of a few in the cast who lifted me up that I made it to through to the final performances. A small number of Christians in the productions sought each other out and banded together for support. We stood up for morality individually or in pairs, and ministered in small ways to those who showed openness to hear the message. Mostly, though, we were called to be an example, and we knew we were being scrutinized.
We are often called to take our tiny lights down dark rabbit holes when we minister. The darkness isn’t an excuse to shy away. He calls us to take our candles and go light the world…even the world of theater!