Penni-Jo-actress-Covenant-Players

How to start a church drama group

Podcast 1 – How to start a church drama group

Hello, I am Penni Blatterman, a 20-year veteran of Covenant Players drama ministry, founded in 1963 by Charles M. Tanner.  As a veteran performer and unit leader, i.e. logistical manager for Covenant Players, I have a great deal of experience in drama and professional presentation, as well as other aspects of tour life, program planning and handling bookings and arrangements.  I joined Covenant Players in America, and toured there for four years.  But the past 15 years of my work in Covenant Players has been in Europe, specifically in Germany.  So, I tend to speak English, but also use German terms.  It is my hope in this podcast series to answer your questions about these areas, as well as other themes that may come up in my continuing dialogue with you, my audience.

This first podcast is on the theme of “How can I establish a drama ministry in my church?”.  This is often asked of me, and of other members of Covenant Players, and through our constant work in Covenant Players, as well as working with other churches and ministries, we do have a lot of information about what works, and what does not. 

So, here we go.

1)  Have a core group of people and rehearse and meet regularly. 

2)  Establish good work habits and expectations.

3)  Allow others to join and participate. 

Right, so 1) Have a core group of people and meet and rehearse regularly.  This can be the hardest, particularly when you are just getting started.  You may want to think of this as a long-term project, rather than something that can happen in 6 months.  This is what I would recommend.  A lot of churches have one big project in the year – most churches it is the Christmas pageant, where you have a set rehearsal time for six weeks to get ready for the big day.  Because people are used to this year rhythm, it may be possible for you to EXTEND this rhythm for another project, i.e. a Valentine’s Day message, another series of weekly meetings for 6 weeks to prepare for the big Valentine’s Day message. 

Now, during this time, is when you want to establish your work pattern.  Your rehearsal should include more than just saying the lines and doing the movements.  Have a time of regular warm-up and work before the rehearsal for your project.  This keeps everyone in the group in a state of preparation, regardless of who has roles in the performance.

2)  Establish good work habits and expectations.  You may want to have a list of rules or guidelines for the group.  This will probably evolve over time, but you will want to insist on a few things.  A)  Everyone meets for warm-ups and rehearsal.  B)  Everyone has a positive attitude about the rehearsal and their fellow actors, regardless of who has which roles.  C)  Rehearsal is a place to prepare and get ready, not to impress.  Perfection is not required. 

There is no need to be dogmatic about these rules, but you will find that they help to foster a sense of community and support, which leads to greater trust.  The reason you want everyone showing up to rehearsal is so that people are ready to perform and take part.  You do not want people just coming if they have been offered a “good role”.

3)  Allow others to join and participate.  You want your group to be tight, but not exclusive.  You want to allow for others to come in, so that the group has a chance to continue after your core group has moved on to other things.  Particularly if you are hoping to engage the youth in your church in the group, regular rehearsals and meetings allow people to know when they can come and be a part.

And those are the basics!  Of course, there is more.  Please do write and ask me your questions.  I can be reached at PJBlatt@gmx.de 

I lead drama workshops regularly, as part of my ministry in Covenant Players.  Covenant Players provides drama workshops for churches, schools and other organizations, throughout North America, Europe, Australia and South Africa.  If you would like a unit of Covenant Players to come and work with your budding and established drama group, please contact us through www.covenantplayers.org.  In the States, you can call us toll-free at 1-800-76-DRAMA.  That is 1-800-76-DRAMA.  And also, you can contact me through PJBlatt@gmx.de, and I can put you in contact with the Covenant Players unit in your area.

That is all from me, Penni Jo Blatterman with Covenant Players.  I hope you have a blessed week, and please write me with your comments or questions.