theatre, theatre and religion, jewish theatre, messianic jewish theatre, messianic judaism, purim plays, theatre and worship
In this study, I worked with an ensemble of teenagers from Ayts Chayim Messianic Synagogue in Boca Raton, Florida to develop an original Purim play to be presented for the congregation and the public. I specifically explored "What is theatre's role as a worship tool in a Messianic Jewish Synagogue?" My ultimate goal in this process was to honor God through the creative arts, and I used the process of creating the play to discover the specific ways that theatre can be used as a worship tool, from script development to theatrical presentation. I hypothesized that theatre could be used as a worship tool if both the attitude of the artists is one of worship and the artists strive for excellence because it is ultimately for God. I furthermore hypothesized that worshipping throughout the process by way of the group's teamwork, attitude, and quality of work would be an integral part of producing a successful product. I sought to discover specifically what theatre as a worship tool looks like in the context of a Messianic Synagogue and what practices I glean from models of Christian drama ministries and what practices emerge from my process that are unique to Messianic theatre when used as a worship tool. How can I infuse my spiritual foundation with my artistic training? The majority of this project focused on the process of creating the play, from writing the script to dress rehearsals. The ensemble met weekly to explore the themes of the biblical story of Esther, brainstormed ideas for our adaptation, developed a script, and executed production aspects such as acting and design elements. Simultaneously, I kept a rehearsal journal with reflections on each lesson and the process as a whole. I completed research on contemporary theories and practices of Christian theatre artists in order to compare and contrast different approaches to faith-based theatre; these approaches are described in this thesis and conclusions are made as to how this research can be applied to my study. At the end of the presentation, I conducted interviews with members of the ensemble and the leaders of the congregation to receive feedback about the process, final presentation, and their perception of how theatre may be used as a worship tool. In this thesis, I write about the experience as a whole, evaluating our ability to use theatre as a worship tool for this specific presentation. I then process the implications this project has for future Messianic Jewish theatre, as well as the project's impact on my growth as a theatre artist. My final conclusions based on this experience are that theatre's role as a worship tool is to create an atmosphere where people are comfortable worshipping. Furthermore, the process of creating the play helped the youth and I discover how to be effective "ministers" and artists that create an atmosphere of worship. Based on my research, I posit that theatre can play many "roles" in the context of a Messianic synagogue: a bypass, sandpaper, or light, to name a few. Finally, artists and places of worship have something to contribute to one another, but both parties must move forward with the understanding that the Scripture provides a theological framework from which to base artistic choices and that artists need to develop their own specific approach to theatre while suiting the mission, vision, and values of the host congregation.
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Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Pedraza, Jennifer, "What Is Theatre's Role As A Worship Tool In A Messianic Synagogue?" (2007). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 3296.