Share and Share Alike: Free--and nearly free--drama resources
The Internet was first touted to the general public as an extraordinary information-sharing tool: a resource to help like-minded people exchange knowledge, encouragement, and inspiration. But today what people share, as often as anything else, is credit card numbers. Everyone, it seems, is out to make a buck—even in the world of worship. There are dozens of sites on the web that offer worship resources—drama, music, liturgy, technical advice, even sermons—for a price. How refreshing, then, to find sites that offer some of these things for free (or very nearly free), in the spirit of the early age of the Internet, or in the Spirit of the early age of the Church (Acts 2:44; Acts 4:32). This column will review three of the better sites offering help to congregations who use drama in worship.
Of course, all congregations use drama in worship. Scripture read with passion and intelligence is drama. A song that tells the salvation story is drama. Worship as a whole is drama. The best worship services, the best liturgies, are those that reenact the drama of God and God’s people, traversing the contours of the covenant life. For that very reason, other “mini” dramas, inserted into the liturgy, can distract from the primary work of the people. On the other hand, thoughtful, well-written drama can be used fruitfully in worship: to point out paradox or hypocrisy, to deepen confession, to give expression to anguish, to testify to unmerited grace. It can illumine places where the changeless gospel intersects with our changing times. In a world becoming less literate and more oral and aural, drama is a powerful—and often overlooked—tool for proclaiming that gospel.
You’ll find one fine collection of dramatic tools at Dramatix (www.carey.ac.nz/drama). Run by John McNeil, a pastor in New Zealand, this co-op offers over four hundred scripts from English-speaking Christians around the world. The scripts are indexed by title, theme, and Scripture, with an easy-to-use search engine available. The site also offers links to dozens of useful essays and articles on topics relating to drama and worship. All these resources are available for free, but you are encouraged to share your own drama scripts to be used by others. In fact, one of this site’s greatest features is the “Script Request” section. Users can submit skit ideas or requests online, in the hopes that they will fuel someone else’s creative fire. About half of such requests receive some sort of response. How wonderful to request a skit on a selected theme, informed by a particular Scripture, and receive a response from some English-speaking Christian half a world away! Finally, this site has a priceless page of comprehensive links to other Christian drama sites.
A site mentioned favorably at Dramatix is DramaShare (www.dramashare.org). DramaShare is, by its own claim, the “most-visited Christian drama website in the world.” It’s a membership-only service, but membership is a pittance: $35 (US) for a year. Members have access to royalty-free scripts, skits, sketches, monologues, and outlines. All facets of drama ministry are supported: make-up, lighting and sound, mime, puppetry, clowning, choral reading, interpretive movement, VBS, and more. Here you’ll find not only scripts, but support and training for those wishing to start drama ministries at their church. Materials are well categorized, and the site is clean and easy to navigate.
Up a bit higher on the chain is Drama Ministry (www.dramaministry.com), one of a family of church-related resource sites from Communication Resources, Inc. More focused than either of the other sites, this site offers primarily chancel dramas. For $80/year you get full, free access to hundreds of scripts (eighty new scripts each year), again helpfully indexed by title, theme, and Scripture. Looking up a particular skit, you can also read a synopsis of the action and learn its dramatic genre, cast breakdown, and performance time. According to the site, each sketch also provides “comprehensive Director Notes, targeted acting exercises, Music Links, and Pastor Notes with related Scriptures and themes to tie everything together.”
A word of warning: sites with such variety—sites that serve such a broad Christian audience—are bound to have a mixture of high-quality material and material that rates high on the stinkometer. The wise pastor will make sure that materials used in worship are reviewed by someone with theological discernment. Someone who knows that part of the power of drama in worship is its poetic character, the concentrated, careful use of words—always in service of the One Word.