Shower Curtain Productions
BBUC’s drama group, Shower Curtain Productions, which is comprised of church and choir members of all ages, has been presenting Christmas and Easter dramas for more than 20 years. Each year new features such as varied music, guest musicians, character profiles, new props, and original scripts are added to enhance the performances.
In all our productions we strive to adapt material so it is meaningful for our children, members, and guests; inclusive in language; and fits a United Church ethos.
As well as learning about the stories that make up our Christian traditions, our actors learn new skills and know they are appreciated as members of their church family.
What began as a simple re-enactment of the events of Holy Week by our Sunday School children has grown into a full-fledged dramatic presentation. Using our flexible-space sanctuary, we have varied every aspect of the event over the years to keep things interesting and meaningful and to bring our stories to life.
As our cast and dramas grew, we felt our production should be seen by more than just our congregation members. So, 12 years ago we moved to a Saturday evening format and welcomed the broader community. And, by asking a small admission fee, we turned our event into a fundraiser for the food bank located at our site.
On the second Sunday of Advent, the focus of our church service is the dramatization of the Christmas story. The story has been told forwards, backwards, from a modern perspective, and in other creative ways.
Inclusion and allowing everyone to “shine” has always been the driving motive behind our productions as we tell important stories of our Christian heritage.
The following is an article about Shower Curtain Productions, which was
included in the January/February 2016 issue of The United Church Observer
While most congregations are still savouring the calm after their busy Christmas season, we at Birchcliff Bluffs United Church in east Toronto are already beginning preparations for our 21st annual Easter drama, “Why Me? An Easter Reflection.”
The reflection is presented by our church’s intergenerational drama group, Shower Curtain Productions (SCP). “It has been exciting to see a Sunday School pageant evolve into an amazing ministry of drama, music, and art,” says board chair Beth Moore. “By performing on a Saturday evening, we’ve been able to welcome the community to experience our event.”
Planning for the presentation begins in February with a concept, sometimes inspired by a song, text, or social issue. At that time, we also consider the involvement of our Sunday School children. Are they ready for bigger roles this year? How will the challenging parts of the story be told? Once the troupe is selected, scripts are fine-tuned to suit each year’s cast members’ skills and talents. “My goal for our Easter dramas is to create a transformational experience through art, music, and spoken word,” says SCP’s co-founder and drama co-creator Jessie Gordon. “Audience and actors both experience the familiar story in a new way and gather new insights.”
Despite the many rehearsals, which will be booked throughout February and March to accommodate school holidays and busy schedules, the drama continues to draw a large cast. There’s an inherent camaraderie at the rehearsals as we work together, practicing our lines, perfecting our songs, and walking through the staging in order to build a meaningful production.
Yoel Yemane, who portrays Jesus, says SCP has done more than develop his singing and acting talents. “It’s important to be part of the team,” he says. “Everyone accepts you as you are. I love to perform and see faces respond when we do a good job.” This year’s drama will follow the format created in last year’s production. The production opens with a soundscape, which percussionist Ed Drachenberg created and performs. It sets the mood: eerie and suspenseful. As the soundscape fades, actors appear and the first of nine original hand-painted banners is moved into place. The Easter story is told as actors come and go from stations, explaining their conflicted feelings and roles in the Holy Week events. Songs are interwoven to enhance the story, and traditional costumes are replaced by black clothing with draped scarves.
The bright banners are also integral to the production. They were created by church members and artists Jessie Gordon and Michelle Threndyle, who use colour and shapes to create images reflecting the Easter story. By the time the drama concludes, the banners will form a stunning full backdrop, which will reveal the sequence of events as the Easter story unfolds.