Thursday, February 27, 2014

Arts and Drama - God's Tools - Tracy Krauss

I love the arts. I write novels, but I am also a visual artist, playwright, musician, and director. Sometimes it's hard for me to choose between all of these creative pursuits because I love each and every one. (Or maybe I've got multiple personality disorder.) It's true, sometimes I don't know whether I'm coming or going depending on which hat I’m currently wearing. But there is one thing I do know - GOD IS THE AUTHOR OF CREATION! In saying that, I believe that God, the divine and ultimate creative force, loves to see His children emulate Him in creative ways.

The fact that many of the artistic disciplines have taken a less than godly turn does not mean that they are inherently evil. What better way to point to the divine than through the arts? It is up to those of us involved in the arts to take them back for God.

Most people will agree that God is using music, literature, and even the visual arts to some degree. Religious art has a long history, and landscapes point to the awesomeness of God’s creation. Many folks can even stretch themselves to include abstract art or secular music and literature if they can make some kind of emotional connection. Art, as a form of communication, should and MUST encompass all aspects of the human condition. A lengthy discussion about the merits of the arts in general will have to wait for another day, however.

What I really want to talk about is the theatre. Ah, the theatre! The devil's playground, indeed!

Of course you know I'm kidding, but I have to be honest here. I’ve written and directed a multitude of plays over the years in my role as a drama teacher and I have been surprised on more than one occasion by the ‘church’s’ attitude toward involvement in the dramatic arts. Unless it’s an Easter Passion Play, the nativity, or short evangelistic skits, drama makes Christians uncomfortable.

Let me share a real life example. All of my children were very interested in the theatre when they were in school. (Wonder where they got that from….) When my eldest was going into Grade Eleven, she wanted to attend a boarding school about five hours away that offered a theatrical immersion program. Basically, students eat, sleep and breathe drama for one whole semester and while doing so they incorporate English, Social Studies, Physical Education etc. Naturally, I was almost as excited as my daughter.

We were pastoring at the time, and low and behold if several well meaning people didn't caution us against the school. They were sure it was going to irreparably harm our daughter spiritually. I'm not sure what the basis for their fear was. I think the fact that it was a 'theatre school' was enough to bring images of debauchery into their minds. We had more faith in her than that, and since I'm a theatre nerd myself, I understood how drama could transform a person in so many positive ways. It ended up being such a wonderful experience that when another daughter expressed an interest a few years later we didn't even hesitate. By the way, they are adults now and serving the Lord.

Christians want positive entertainment options to combat the flood of negative content. Yet if we aren’t encouraging and training young people in the dramatic arts, how can we expect quality work? If we ever hope to reach a dying world, funded my million dollar machines, we better get on board. Christian people need a forum in which to learn.

It reminds me of my experience as a visual artist. I majored in Fine Art at University and yes, I had to take classes where we drew or painted from nude models. When done in a non-sexual context, one soon gets used to it and I don't believe anyone can truly learn to represent the human figure without it. Imagine expecting a doctor - even a Christian one - to perform his duties without a detailed knowledge of human anatomy? The same goes for artists of all kinds.

Even more important is the fact that the world needs us. We are to be salt and light to a dying generation and if we're cowering away in bubbles of our own making, it is pretty hard to do. God Himself wrote the ultimate epic drama when he inspired the Bible. (And there are some rather graphic scenes included.) To shun or ignore the theatrical arts, a powerful and vital tool of expression and evangelism, is a shame indeed. Maybe the fact that it is so potentially powerful and useful is why Satan has invested so much time in trying to ruin it.

Artists, writers, actors, and musicians – it’s time to rise up and take your place in the body of Christ. Don’t let anyone–even fellow believers - squelch your divinely given creative drive if it doesn't fit neatly into a church appropriate box.

Tracy Krauss writes romantic suspense novels and stage plays while teaching Drama, Art and English at the secondary school level. She lives with her husband in beautiful Tumble Ridge, BC. For more visit her website:


Peter Black said...

Thanks Tracy, for your interesting and candid thoughts and reflections from your personal and family experience. I can understand the reticence of some in the Christian community towards the use of dance and drama.
That said, several of my congregations have used music and drama to good effect.
A play directed by my son is currently playing in Niagara Falls.
He has written and directed a number of successful school plays, and believes in drama's power to teach and transform both actor and audience for the better. ~~+~~

The Sunflower Seeds Team said...

As a former drama leader, Tracy, I hear you. I agree that God set the stage for so much and the arts are such an important way to relay His wonderful message. He didn't make us creative for naught! Great post, Tracey.

Bobbi Junior said...

If God calls and equips someone for a craft, then under his tutelage, that craft becomes God-inspired.

We were made in God's image, and we have an innate need to imagine, and bring to life what we imagine - be it music, drama, stories, concepts, philosophies, machines, businesses, and on and on.

Scripture puts the boundaries around how we express our craft. Within those boundaries, I say, GO FOR IT!

Good discussion, Tracy.

Glynis said...

Sunflowers Seeds is me, Tracy, lest you wonder who the flower is! I was logged in under my other name! <> Glynis. (Lots of great responses to your words - great stuff!)

Tracy Krauss said...

Thanks for your comments. (I wondered who sunflower seeds was...!) I didn't figure out how to change the white space around the post for sorry for that... I have had a VERY busy week with a major theatrical production MUTINY ON MY OLYMPUS - our last show was yesterday when this post went live - so I was actually practicing what I preached!

Kimberley Payne said...

My mom was part of a group called "Theatre 80" and they brought laughter to many children through their plays.
God is the Great Creator and He created us to be like Him. He created us to be creative.

Tracy Krauss said...

My troupe is called the 'KodiActs' - our high school sports teams are the 'Kodiaks' (we do actually live in grizzly country) so it seemed fitting.

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