Friday, December 2, 2011

Behind The Scenes

I was very much into the performing arts and the theater when I was in college. I considered it as one of my "passions" back then and I thought that I would end up doing something related to the arts for the rest of my life. My father, on the other hand, was not so thrilled about the idea. Aside from the late nights (and sometimes even until the wee hours of the morning) of endless rehearsals and practices for upcoming performances, and then all the traveling on top of actually attending my classes, he wasn't too excited for me in becoming a full time "artist." He told me to enjoy the theater while I can but he made it very clear right then and there that there's no point for me ending up as one of the many "starving" artists out there, he said. I understand now that he was only being practical and was thinking of what he thought was best for me, but at the same time that he was telling me all that, my heart and my mind were already rebelling against his advice. I thought I knew what I wanted and I thought I knew what I'd love to do with my life. But I didn't have a clue.

I was introduced into the world of theater through the courses I had to take in college. But the more appealing introduction came with my membership in a college performing arts group named "An Balangaw" or The Rainbow. It's where my love for theater, song and dance, performance and the arts in general did really take root. I loved the process of creating, writing, deliberating with the performers, the directing, designing, acting, and watching a piece of art on stage evolve right before my eyes. It almost seemed like working with something that is alive because a performance piece continues to change, mold and remold, and it takes on some of the adaptations from audiences' reactions as well as from the actors' contributions to the show.

My experience with theater was not with the classical plays by Shakespeare, Ben Jonson or Tennessee Williams, and neither did we do anything from the classical Greek tragedies or comedies, although studying and learning about them in the classroom was so much fun and educational. The group's forte was the local folklore, the Filipino music and dance, and the indigenous way of life and traditions of the people. The performers traveled around the Leyte-Samar area (in the Visayas or the central Philippines) to research and learn the various songs and poems, traditions and legends, the folk dances and musical compositions of the local people which have been passed down from generations to generations without any proper documentation. The whole experience served as an eye-opener for us "city folks."

I loved to perform back then. I enjoyed entertaining people with the songs, dances and the stories we gathered from our travels and research. This is one of the wonders of theater --what you see on stage is not the actual, whole picture of the total process on putting up a show. Almost 85% of what's in a performance happens behind the scenes. The research staff and the writers are the mind of the theater, the directors and the creative staff are the heart of a performance, and the props, stage design, costume, make-up and lighting people compose the skeleton or backbone of the show. The actors are the soul of the theater and the audience completes the whole package. Theater can never be successful if it's not a collaborative work. Each piece of the act will crumble without one and the other. 

"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." -1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 25-27

Glory be to God for He designed His church as a collaboration or teamwork as well. As Christians, we are members of one Body. No matter what my role is in His body, my role is important. Without my small part in my local church, the whole piece will not function as effectively. I'm expected to do my work without any grumbling or envy, without any comparison to the roles played by other members of the church, and without any complaint. Unlike when I was younger when I used to "rebel" against my father's wishes for me, now as I mature I ought to listen and take good advice from my pastor and the leaders of my church on how to do things.

Just like in theater, the bulk of the work in a church is not readily visible. There are jobs done by most members that are not "advertised," like cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning and making sure the pews and the auditorium are ready for Sunday service, and maintaining the building structures. These are very important work and often times the people who do these remain unappreciated. As for me, I need to make sure that I do what I need to do and do my part in order for the members of our church to be honored and to rejoice in Christ. This time we are not in the theater. We are not performing. This is the real thing. This is highly important. Christians need to make it right or else answer to God Himself.


  1. Great post Mara. Shakespeare once wrote that 'all the world's a stage and all the people mere players.' I tend to agree with Him; we all have a role to play whoever we are and God is the best theatre director of them all!

  2. Thanks, Tim! And I say "aye, aye!" =)
    God bless you always...

  3. Wonderful analogy between the church as the body and theater.

  4. Thanks, Shanda! As always, your comments are most welcome & appreciated. God bless you always...


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